Friday, September 9, 2011


My brother has had better days. It seems that while he was stuck in Atlanta, the mighty Susquehanna reached record flood levels and in the middle of the night, surrounded his beautiful historic home in Owego,NY, trapping his wife and son inside. It filled the basement as John tried to book a flight into Binghamton. All flights were cancelled as my hometown went into a state of emergency, and the waters rose to the first floor of my brother's home. My parents were safe, high atop a hill, but the city of Binghamton, and Owego proper, on the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers, were inundated with flood waters. Even if my sister in law Jenny could get out of the house, all the streets out of Owego were flooded.

Midday, the National Guard arrived in a Zodiac boat, and rescued Jenny, Anthony, and their sweet dog Callie. My folks will have their son living with them again, it looks like, for a few months. When the waters recede, poor John will have to make massive repairs on his beautiful home. He will fly into Binghamton this morning. As of now, Jenny is with friends in a neighborhood near Owego, but swollen creeks cut off her path to get to my folks. The airport is on the same high ground as my old home, so John will wait with my parents for the raging waters to recede from epic, record breaking flood level, and will retrieve his family. They hope to reunite by Saturday.

"Why didn't she leave when she had a chance?" I asked John.
"Because no one thought the river would flood that high," he told me.
That's what Noah's neighbors said too....

Warnings. They are all over the place, and we ignore them at our peril. I am not faulting Jenny. In the two hundred years that beautiful historic house had been standing, it had never flooded more than a few inches in the basement. She had no reason to suspect the river would engulf her home. But it did start me musing about all the warnings in life that we ignore. They are sometimes little things, like sassy tones that creep into our children's voices. Sometimes they are little indulgences that are slowly not little anymore. The occasional cream jelly donut becomes the staple, and broccoli becomes the occasional treat. We go for a run rather than tackle that work we should be tackling...just this once...and that just this once becomes commonplace. Rather than fill our lungs with healthy fresh air, and move the muscles God gave us, we slouch like slugs on the couch, because today we are too tired. We don't notice that today becomes tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and soon the muscles are as gooey as that jelly donut we are now eating in prodigious amounts. We ignore God's nudges to look up at Him, and open our hearts to His pleas, and when His image becomes fainter, we blame it on Him. Sarcasm and anger replace encouragement and gentleness. The rain begins to fall, and falls and falls for forty days and forty nights. We keep thinking it will stop, but one day it doesn't, and it floods the world. And as we grasp at the planks of our homes floating by, we wonder why we weren't warned.

Jeremiah 6:9-11

 9 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
   “Let them glean the remnant of Israel
   as thoroughly as a vine;
pass your hand over the branches again,
   like one gathering grapes.”
 10 To whom can I speak and give warning?
   Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
   so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
   they find no pleasure in it.
11 But I am full of the wrath of the LORD,
   and I cannot hold it in.
   “Pour it out on the children in the street
   and on the young men gathered together;
both husband and wife will be caught in it,
   and the old, those weighed down with years.

Matthew 23:37

   37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

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