I really couldn't believe what I was seeing as I walked through my husband's shop yesterday, a day after the water from the Pawtuxet River receded. The water mark on his CNC milling machine was at 38 inches.
Outside, a HAZMAT team was trying to determine if chemicals from a neighbors chemical processing operation had leaked. We had to wait to find out if the whole site was going to be shut down and condemned. It seems that is not the case, though, as the HAZMAT team finally left.
It was dark in the shop, of course. The lights are still off. Everywhere, dark silty mud that smelled of diesel and motor oil and just a hint of sewage waste.
Because the road to get to the shop is still underwater, the only access is through a neighbor's back yard. A sweet elderly woman who has a gate that opens onto the steep embankment across from the building has graciously allowed us to duck through her yard. Yesterday a photographer from the Providence Journal made her way down the embankment with a camera slung over her shoulder to take pictures of the damage.
Strangely, Nguyen and I are not gripped in fear. We are just patiently waiting to see how things unfold. I think that is probably a result of the many people who are holding us in prayer right now. The first calls I made when I finally realized that our business was destroyed were not to FEMA. They were to my spiritual director and my parish priest.
And it is Holy Week, a time when maybe it is right that we get stripped down to our barest essentials. We come face to face with the limits of our faith. Where does it end? Where does the dark pit of unbelief start? Last year, at a friends diagnosis with a pancreatic tumor, I got there very quickly. I wrestled with God for a week until finally, my friend's tumor was diagnosed as benign. And maybe that was God telling me he'd won the match. And I called 'Uncle' and felt the edge of my faith grow more distant. I have longer to go before I careen into the dark.
This year, too, has pushed it back yet farther. Working in a crisis pregnancy center means that my faith is tested every day. Being in the center of a spiritual battle, day after day, requires a rigorous faith. I can't wimp out. I can't fall into despair. And the only way of avoiding it is to offer myself to God everyday. Seek his will. Run to him for protection.
The edge of my faith grows more distant... at least for now. For today. Because really, what is that edge except the point where you let fear take over? That is the blackness on the other side.
For today, in the ruins of our livelihood, in the muck and oil and shit that fills our shop, in the post diluvian black mire,
It is Easter.