Better Than Before

Long Beach Boardwalk,
(rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy destruction)

What happens when a home is built on a narrow strip of land between the ocean and the bay? Nothing…until the Day.

The Day of the perfect storm
When wind, high tide and full moon collide
The ocean greets the bay
The narrow strip of land                 
The Day divided time,                                      
Naming it-- 
Before the Storm
And After the Storm. 

Before the Storm … 

I had a husband, five healthy kids,    
 a dog who barks too much;
Though we lived in an old house
Burdened with needed repair,
We could relax on the beach,
Watch the sun set from the boardwalk
Ride bikes by the bay.
I was thankful for my few possessions,
But holding them
As if I could
In my own strength.

After the Storm … 

My husband, five healthy kids,
The dog who barks too much          
And I shared one room upstairs,
One bathroom for seven bodies
In our old house,
Gutted to half its skeleton.
The wind howled
Over the ocean,
Chilling our home. 

Clean up involved
Shoveling the beach out
Of the living room,
Sweeping the muddy sand
Out the door,
Tossing a mountain-high pile of ruined belongings
In black trash bags
To the sidewalk.  
Floors piled with blankets for beds;                                              
Our old home became
An indoor campground. 

After the storm… 

We didn’t know what
A blessing it would be
To rid our lives of things
That don’t matter.
We didn’t know
The blessings to come;
God would answer prayer
In His perfect time. 

As our home was stripped
To the beams, so were our lives;
We could see the hidden parts
That held our house together—
The solid beams,
The weak, rotting beams                                             
Where the foundation
Needed repair,
A twisted screw,
Rusty pipes.
Moldy insulation. 

When our structure
Was removed,
What was left?
Our faith,
Our hope,
Our love. 

One year after the storm,
God brought volunteers,
In our eyes,
Angels in orange;
Each said yes to His call
And came willing to serve,                                                       

To bless us, strangers,
To rebuild our home,
Better than before. 

Minor progressions became
Major blessings,
Like watching seeds
Sown in a dessert
Sprout into the most beautiful flower. 

What happened on that Day
When the ocean met the bay?
Something we never expected—
Our lives were changed;
We saw Jesus
In the smiles of His servants
In their lovely, willing hands.                      
We were blessed. 

After the storm…

We are better than before.
This poem won 3rd place Editor's Choice for the Faithwriter's weekly contest for the theme "Count Your Blessings."


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