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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)

TITLE: After the Storm
By Linda Watson Owen


On this chilled, gray day in January, the Mississippi Gulf Coast lies twisted and strewn even after four months of laborious clean-up following Hurricane Katrina’s rampage. My family once happily called this area home as our children grew up in its balmy breezes and salted sunshine. After job changes took us away, places we had often visited during those years became favorite spots in our regular pilgrimages back to the coast. No, we were not living there when the storm struck, but our extended family was.

They fled the area just hours before the veering hurricane hit, never imagining what they would find when they were finally allowed to return weeks later. What had been their seaside family home was now only the stubbed columns of foundation blocks standing stark and naked, stripped of the beautiful two story house that once crowned them. There were no cars, no furniture, no mementos of weddings, births, first steps, or proms. No pressed flower ‘I Luv Yous,’ or grandchildren’s trikes, or tiny plastic shovels in the sand. In a matter of minutes, all that they had ever held in their hands of earthly value was gone. After years of innumerable hours of dedicated working and saving, investing and striving, it all disappeared in a surreal instant. Far worse than a horror movie, this real life nightmare was accompanied by the insurance company’s theme song of ‘We Don’t Cover That,’ insuring only that the nightmare would continue.

As we all sat around our table following Thanksgiving dinner, I reeled at the additional details in their story. The many battles and obstacles in their attempts to reclaim some semblance of a home had obviously taken its toll on them. Besides the actual loss, they were dealing with worry and the technicalities of red tape, forms and more forms. Their courage and positive spirit, however, inspired me, and I still often wonder if I could hang on as they have been doing under such circumstances.

We may piously dismiss the loss of physical possessions as mere inconvenience, which it often is, but loss on this scale is devastating and life altering in modern cultures. Handling such loss with grace and salvaging the ability to once again smile and laugh is quite an accomplishment, one that must come from somewhere further than the human heart.

It is no secret that storms of many kinds come in this life. There are physical storms that destroy what is familiar and safe. Emotional storms rock our confidence causing us to cringe in fear or strike out in rage. Mental storms devour our intellect and steal personality. And spiritual tempests shake us to the very foundations of our being. We may, without choosing, become victims, but there is a way to move on to being victors.

I dedicate the following poem to each who has suffered loss in the midst of a storm.

After the Storm

Though warnings came, no imagination could create the portrait of this day.
Cackling, howling wind-claws ripped and shredded
every standing structure of my security.

In my whirling celebration of contentment, the storm crept in,
stealing in, between the rhythms of my life. Oh, such a life!
Laughing, singing, loving! …now sighing,…crying.

Hideous storm, heartless storm, that rages and reeks,
wrecking, chewing and spewing, seeking the living,
leaving only waste, and disjointed, dismembered splinters of what once was.

I wander, searching for home, straining to recognize a scrap, a horizon.
The place where I belong is swept away. I am swept away.
“Where is home?” the lost child of my soul cries. “Where is my safe haven?”

I frantically grasp at silent splinters in ravaged earth.
“Home…,” whimpers my orphan heart.
“Lost…,” echoes the ghost breeze of destruction.

All is lost.

“Come Child, look up. There is more than earth.
What you thought was home, though dear, can be rebirthed.
Look up, Child. Take heart. A storm cannot destroy My gift of joy.”

“Though weeping lasts a day, I will remain and help you find the way to home.
Come, My Child, bring empty hands that you may hold to mine again.
Come home.”

“…Behold, I make all things new.” Revelations 21:5 (KJV)

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This article has been read 1257 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laurie Glass 01/16/06
Your words painted pictures in this piece. You drew me right in. And I love how the first three stanzas of the poem build. Then the comfort and reassurance of the Father at the end is wonderful.
Crista Darr01/17/06
Impressive and heartfelt work. Your intro is filled with grace and your poem is perfect. Beautiful.
Jan Ackerson 01/19/06
Your next-to-last stanza is awesome. Thank you so much!
Shari Armstrong 01/19/06
Well done - thanks for sharing this with us, it helps it more real for those of us who've only seen it on the news.
Pat Guy 01/19/06
Inspired ... wonderful and beautiful! Yes, everything will be new - all the storms will be forgotten. Beautiful.
Val Clark01/20/06
Very special; both the introduction and the poem. Particularly liked the layeredness of ' “Home…,” whimpers my orphan heart./“Lost…,” echoes the ghost breeze of destruction.'
Val Clark01/20/06
Very special; both the introduction and the poem. Particularly liked the layeredness of ' “Home…,” whimpers my orphan heart./“Lost…,” echoes the ghost breeze of destruction.'
Maxx .01/21/06
Wow. That was really touching. Really hit the mark square on. Thank you for writing and sharing this wonderful piece!
Suzanne R01/22/06
The topic was awful but thought-inspiring. Your use of language is magnificent. Your poem ... well, words escape me. EXCELLENT writing!
Marilyn Schnepp 01/22/06
Whenever I step up into the Advanced Category to read all these talented entries...I always wonder why I even bother to write; then I humbly limp, or sometimes crawl, back down to my Intermediate Room...and pray for forgiveness for my covetous spirit. Well written and very touching. Great talent here. God Bless!