"We dodged a bullet!" So read the local daily paper's headline after the storm passed.
And so we did. Irma certainly brought some real damage to our area, but nothing like what might have resulted had we endured the predicted storm surge of fifteen feet. It will take a while to get things cleaned up and back in shape, but by-and-large, we made out well. Here. On Sanibel. In Fort Myers where I live. But not everywhere.
A friend of mine noted in one of her Facebook posts during the last week that she hesitates to say we were blessed by not being hit so hard. She is on to something when she notes that it raises disturbing questions. Does that mean places like Barbuda and St. Thomas and Key West and Marco Island were not blessed? Does that mean they were cursed in some way?
There are those who thank God that the storm didn't do more harm here than it did. And that is appropriate. We must be grateful for all the good things in our lives. But God didn't steer the storm in another direction. God didn't bless us and curse others by bending and twisting Irma's path. We can, and should, thank God for the many blessings we have, but not if we think we are somehow blessed and therefore others must be counted as cursed. That's a zero-sum approach. Everything in the end must zero out. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It may be good physics (though there are those who would debate that point as well), but it makes for just plain bad theology.
We are all blessed, loved, accepted, by God. That love, that acceptance, is unlimited and is not parceled out to some and not to others. Period.
But there is also a lot of pain, a lot of destruction, a lot of damage in our world. And it is our task to share that love in and through our responses to Irma, Harvey, the wildfires out west, and all the other ways people are hurting in our world.
Now that we've dodged a bullet, how will we live? That's the real question.