Today I have a beautiful story for you – about tornadoes and Coronaviruses and why we should never grow anxious about them.
The kids were all dressed up. The boys in their black suits, white pressed shirts and ties. The girls in beautiful black dresses. They sat behind their music stands, tuning and warming up their instruments. The conductor wore a tux, complete with a cumber band.
The whole thing felt elevated, as if we were at some grand theater about to experience something magnificent. It didn’t matter that we were in the school cafeteria that smelled heavily of chlorine bleach and Lysol.
At the sound of the first note, I felt the surge of an emotion that I still find impossible to describe – a combination of openness, awe, joy, and an ache that comes when we witness something deeply beautiful, profound and sacred.
“All is well,” I thought. And a different voice inside my being said: “No…all is magical…and beautiful…and filled with hope, love and a force of life that no tornado and no Coronavirus can ever overcome.”
I don’t know why music has such power on me.
My face lit up; I could feel myself smiling and tearing up at the same time, and healing from deep within. I sat in the first row on one of those incredibly uncomfortable, backless cafeteria chairs that are attached to the metal tables. I imagined every parent behind me smiling the same blissful smile.
But when I glanced back, I saw rows of tired faces looking exhausted and gloomy under the drab fluorescent lights. After all, it was a Thursday evening during one of the hardest weeks we’ve had in Nashville since the flood.
The tornado swept through Nashville and several neighborhoods east and north of downtown. Although its path was some 20 minutes away from us and we only had a bad storm that night, each of us knew someone whose house was completely destroyed and whose lives were uprooted like the trees that were tossed onto the roads.
Like one of the band techs, who lived in the tornado’s path. The night of the tornado, he had been hiding in a windowless bathroom in the center of his house with his wife and two dogs, when all of a sudden he felt an urge to get out.
His wife doubted him but he insisted that he didn’t have a good feeling and that they had to leave. They got into their car and drove outside of the tornado’s path.
When they returned, they found their house gone, every wall collapsed onto the very spot where they thought they would be safe.
As soon as the winds calmed down, everyone was out helping each other. Within hours, shelters were set up, homes opened, food served, fundraisers and supply chains established.
Nashville comes together with an incredible generosity and spirit.
Then on Thursday, the first case of Coronavirus was reported in Franklin.
While the man is young and healthy enough to be out of danger, his son attended one of the local schools. Everything had to be shut down until Tuesday for deep disinfection and cleaning.
This 20-minute performance was approved by the school district before the shut down, and everyone was instructed to rub elbows instead of shaking hands.
I got there early to avoid getting stressed out. This was one place where I actually had control over not creating any more stress or anxiety of this sort.
I sat down and thought of the times when a natural disaster AND a spreading disease would have sent me right into a panic attack. I remembered how pointless everything used to seem when I couldn’t control my anxiety. Dressing up, putting make up on, going to see shows OR doing anything that wasn’t absolutely essential seemed so incredibly pointless.
The thought of how fragile life is and how much effort we put into merely surviving (working to pay our bills, making food, building and cleaning our houses, etc.) seemed so depressing (that’s what depression and anxiety does to your mindset).
But then I also remembered another time – when finding the smallest reason to get dressed up was essential for survival.
It just happened that this past week, I was working on my memoir and I came across pages in my diary from when the war in Croatia started. Going to see concerts and theater shows WAS essential – we needed to be uplifted, inspired, given a reason to laugh and come together in something that was so different from the hatred and destruction that was all around us.
We needed to be filled with hope, love and the force of life that no war, tornado, or Coronavirus could ever overcome.
And much like on that early Tuesday morning, when those who weren’t affected offered their homes to those who lost everything, some of us put on our dress suits, gowns and played gorgeous music to lift up the spirits of those who are burdened with worry or fear.
God (and Love) will always be the First Responders in any hardship.
I don’t know why I always knew this, I just did. In my lowest points and my darkest days, I always knew that. Sometimes, I’d just wait until it reached me. And sometimes I’d put on my shoes and go look for it.
As I mused on this, I felt myself filled with gratitude.
By the time the kids played that first note, the gratitude I felt had opened up a space for me to be deeply moved by the gorgeous music, and to realize how essential beauty, art, love, hope and community is in our lives.
Now it’s your turn 🙂
Reflect on times when you experienced a magical moment amidst struggles and hardship. And then share it with someone.
You just might be that First Responder that shows up for them.