I cannot quite describe what I have experienced today. I got into my car this afternoon and decided to go to the near-by neighborhood of Bordeaux, which I knew had been hit hard by the flood, to see how I could help. I still had no idea what I would find when I turned the corner onto West Hamilton Road. There was snapped-off tree limbs, twisted metal, and random debris everywhere. A brick house had been plopped onto a neighboring street as if it was a box of cereal. There was devastation on every side. People taking the last little bits of their lives and placing them by the road for the garbage trucks to haul away. A few strangers trying to help. A lot of children wandering around with no place to go. I was overwhelmed by it all. So I parked my car in the mud, and walked up to a make-shift food “station” and found a girl named Kimberly, who seemed to have some sort of a handle on the emergency. Her broad rimmed hat could not hide her contagious smile or the sweat rolling down her neck. I introduced myself, and we spoke briefly, just long enough for me to catch the passionate desperation, behind her smile. She turned to hand a bottle of water to a small girl, and that’s when I got the bigger scoop on who Kimberly really was. I learned from another person, that although she had lost most of her own belongings, she had been there from the very beginning, getting word out, bringing friends in, taking donations, buying food (herself!) for the people of West Hamilton Drive. My heart went out to her and her efforts, and I went home with a heavy heart, but with a new determination to do something.
Just so happened that earlier today, I had rescued some potatoes from our flooded shop, washed all eight pounds of ’em, and cut them into chunks, for no apparent reason. Now they just needed to be seasoned and roasted. I found a whole pound of greens that were nearing their expiration date, so I made them into a huge salad, packed both into the car, and headed back to Bordeaux. The whole time I was thinking, “this is not even close to being enough.” But something told me I had to go back. And so I did. By the time I got there, Kimberly had single-handedly set up an efficient feeding station. There were now two tables set up, water bottles floating in ice, a mound of bagged snacks stacked in the middle, and more burgers and hot dogs made. I wasted no time setting my two measley dishes down, and people wasted no time coming to eat. Word got around fast, and soon we had alot of people. Victims, volunteers, and a handful of police officers. Funny thing is, we never ran out of food. Loaves and fishes came out of nowhere. Random people dropped off random food. Sandwiches came out of thin air. It was amazing. I could never have anticipated this kind of thing. I just went with my heart. And my heart said to go. It was worth the effort just for the smiles I saw.
I will go back tomorrow, and there will be more debris, and more drenched photos left out to dry, but for today, I have seen enough, to change my world forever. Today, like yesterday, I have seen, with my heart, the images I had previously only seen on TV. I have looked into the eyes of my fellow survivors. I have held hands with angels. I have witnessed yet another miracle. And I have met one of the most extraordinary people walking the planet.
The strangest thing is, it all happened right here. Right in the back yard of this beautiful city I call home…right here in my Nashville.