Who could have imagined?
Every spring, our church has a congregational retreat at the NaCoMe conference center in Pleasantville, TN. While we were there last year, we experienced a flood that took out power to the complex and rapid water which covered the only bridge out. It was a bit of an inconvenience, but we made the best of it. We were told that it was the worst flooding the area has experienced in over 100 years. THIS year, exactly one year later, our retreat was yet again flooded. Some thought it best to leave early. Those who stayed ended up being stranded for three extra days. THIS time, the whole of Middle TN suffered a 500 year deluge of 15 inches of rain. My family and I left early to avoid being stranded by floodwaters. Little did we know that we were heading from the frying pan into the fire. We ended up being stranded in our own home as our road was covered in floodwaters on either side of our home. Thankfully, our home was spared. But thousands of Middle Tennesseans lost much, if not all, of their homes and possessions. We have been in shock and amazement ever since.
This was a plein-air painting of the creek flowing through NaCoMe. It was painted two years ago after the first great flood. It records how that gentle creek, where children love to wade and splash, became a swelling rapid, strong enough to take out bridges. Our retreat theme that year was on Wisdom in the book of Proverbs. I titled the painting “Wisdom”, though I did not fully know why. It just felt right. Now I know. It is the wisdom that comes from a shared experience with a group of people. Wisdom of how frail humanity is against the power of nature. Wisdom of respect in how rapidly nature can cause tragedy. Wisdom in witnessing God at work to heal brokenness. Wisdom in knowing God’s peace that calms all storms. Wisdom in seeing how loving and tough humans can be in the face of tragedy. All of this wisdom I now see flowing in the current of this painting.
After the devastating flood of water, came a beautiful flood of Grace. Neighbors and strangers poured into the area to help the afflicted. It is a wonderful thing to see. No one ever imagined this kind of flooding was possible here. And many never imagined the outpouring of love in response. Now, we are all a little wiser.
If you would like to help the victims of Middle Tennessee, you can go to this link.
If you would like to know more about the NaCoMe conference center and how they have been affected by the flood, you can visit this link.