June 20, 2013

Connecting with Disaster

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

“My kids still trapped at school just outside Moore until I can get over to pick them up. Huge tornado…crazy. I’m stuck by shopping mall in Del City because hail is so bad.” The text was from a friend that lives in Moore, Oklahoma. I was hundreds of miles away but I immediately felt his fear as though I was in the car with him.. 

Earlier we had heard of the tragedy in Moore. The massive destruction, the schools hit and the lives lost. It all seemed far away, far removed. The text message brought it close to home. You think of the situation he is in and place yourself there. What if those were my kids? What if I was trying to get to my kids and could not, not knowing how they were? What state of mind would I be in? All questions that come to mind at a time like this. They bring the fear yet thankfulness that but by the grace of God that would be you.

Disasters keep coming. We have the wildfires out west, hurricanes on the southern and eastern coast, and tornados in the heartland. Then there are the school shootings and bombings. They seem to come one after the other. We see the agony of the families touched by this and their stories of recovery. There are so many aspects of the human struggle and heroism presented to us with these occurrences. There is no end to the opportunity to write about this. But what is your connection?

Finding you connection may be as easy as finding the next disaster. You simply need to ask yourself, “What if?” What if that had been my house, family, friends or community. How would I feel? What would I do? What would my community do? How did they react? Would I have reacted that way? The questions are endless but they will lead you to the angle to use when you write.

When writing about one of these unfortunate situations, consider those that were involved. My friend went on in his text to ask for prayers for his family and others in his community that had lost so much. Many prayers went up and many were answered. Write! As you do consider a prayer for those struggling to overcome the tragedy they have suffered. And say a prayer of thankfulness for those, like ourselves, that were spared.         


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