istock_000005024047xsmall.jpgTornado sirens wailed. Skies were darkening as winds whipped around the buildings in our neighborhood.

It was Thursday, June 12, around 4:40 pm in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

The news channel was non-stop chatter and maps of wind speeds, hail, and towns in the pathways of potential tornadoes.

More sirens. Time to get serious. Time to find the matches, candles, drinking water and flashlight. Interesting! How basic we can get in a time of crisis! How little we can take with us when the primary concern is survival.

After several hours of heavy rain, our street was flooded up over the curb with a stalled car near my driveway. My basement was dry and I was counting my blessings.

The next day I joined folks from up and down the block who gathered in clusters here and there to share their stories. Wet basements, trying to get home from work through flooded streets, and how to call the emergency government office were the main topics of conversation.

They say that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. And so it was.

The Sunday newspaper illustrated why the city manger is calling this the “100 year storm” in this small Midwestern town. The piles of wet carpeting and sewage infected furnishings piled by the curb were stark realities of sleepless nights and losing the fight with nature.

I got an email from one of my sisters with two sobering questions from a commentator: “Do you know your neighbors well enough that you would risk your life to try to dig them out of the rubble if their home was destroyed? And do you think they would do that for you?”

Life and friendship doesn’t get any more fundamental than that.

Janice M. Puta
Author of Pathways: Tales for the Spiritual Seeker
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