“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
I wouldn’t wish a tornado or a hurricane on anyone but some of the most rewarding and joyful experiences of my life have come as a result of natural disasters.
Let me explain. Though my home and property have never been endangered by a hurricane, tornado or other national disaster, I have had many opportunities to help those who have lost almost everything.
After Hurricane Katrina, for example, my father and I were part of a volunteer group that drove to Mississippi to help residents who were severely impacted by the disaster. We loaded up shovels, chainsaws, work gloves and other equipment into our vehicles and made the long drive to a local church where we set up tents in the parking lot. After we were all organized at the staging site, we split into teams and were given addresses of people who needed our help. As we drove down the streets, the devastation was obvious and heartbreaking. Cars were tossed on top of each other, trees had fallen everywhere, roofs and rooms were missing from homes and the sides of the streets were already piled with appliances and household items that had been destroyed. To say it was depressing was an understatement.
At each address, the homeowner came to greet us. It wasn’t your typical “hello.” Instead, it was hugs, tears, smiles and ongoing expressions of appreciation just for showing up. In some places, we cut down trees and limbs that had crushed homes and cars. In other places, we pulled rotting food and other goods from water-soaked appliances and furniture. In still others, we waded into flooded first floor room to tear out sheetrock.
All the work, in the heat of the summer sun in the South, was backbreaking, dirty, long and sometimes even dangerous. None of those adjectives are usually tied to activities we consider fun and bringing joy and happiness. But as...