When I heard about people leaving their houses in the face of Hurricane Harvey, I started trying to figure out what I would put in a backpack to take with me. What would I keep? What’s already on a thumb-drive? What’s in plastic ready to go? Where are the policies and the phone numbers? What supplies do I need to take? (For more on this backpack, see Bug-out bag)
Now I’m trying to figure out the spiritual equivalent of an emergency bug-out bag. What are the things I have quickly at hand if I have to leave quickly in a crisis?
I’m not talking simply about a Bible or a devotional. I’m talking more about the ideas and assurances and understandings that will provide courage and sustenance.
- Is it abandoning the notion that every disaster is a judgment from God?
- Embracing the notions that God is present with us in disaster?
- Is it an understanding of what community and compassion look like?
- Is it an understanding of who God is that takes into account the fact when human and natural disasters happen, God’s words about weeping with those who weep are still true?
- Does it include thoughts about clothing and feeding and housing those who are in need?
I’m open to suggestions. I’ve just started thinking about it myself. But I keep running into people who are in the middle of personal disasters. Some of them have packed in ways that sustain them. Others have been given poor cliches to carry along. I think is worth thinking about what to pack for the journey.
I’m not sure how I discovered the Humanitarian Disaster Institute. I found the Disaster Ministry Handbook very helpful for thinking through how a congregation can provide help in times of both natural and human disaster. The co-founder, Dr. Jamie Aten, talks about his understanding of disaster from Hurricane Katrina and his own cancer in “A Walking Disaster.“ And he just wrote “Bracing for Impact: How to prepare your church for a natural disaster.“