Opinion Column

Community editorial board: Deluge! Inundation! Engulfment! Submergence! S.O.S.!

By Patricia Anne Elford

Have you read or heard “The Man on the Roof in a Flood” story that circulated on media? Here’s a version to keep you in the loop:

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

A man came by in a rowboat. He shouted to the fellow on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you." The stranded fellow shouted back, "I’m okay. I'm praying to God who will save me." The boater rowed on.

A motorboat roared near. The woman in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you."

The stranded man replied. "No thanks, I'm praying to God who will save me. I’ve faith." The motorboat burbled away.

A helicopter hovered above. The pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope. I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded fellow again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God who will save me." The helicopter chuf, chuf, chuffed into the clouds.

As the water rose above the rooftop, the man drowned. He went to heaven. When he had his chance to talk with God, he exclaimed, "I had faith in you, but you let me drown. I don't understand why!"

God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"

What did the man expect? A giant hand, perhaps, reaching down from the sky, to lift him to dry land? A receding of the flood waters from his property area, with a convenient connection to the nearest highway? Or, a pathway, Ten Commandments movie style, so he could walk on the new lake’s bottom to safety? Or, a temporary gift of the ability to walk on water to the nearest dry area?

He did have faith, but it was faith in an answer which met his expectations, shaped by his mind and wishes. He simply could not see the answer when it was rowing, roaring, or chuffing.

This isn’t the column I intended to write. That one dived out the window when the past few months flooded (in some cases, literally) my life with challenges. No one of these things would have been too much, but the sum total was sending me under for the third time.

Rough Itemizing: My husband Robert’s flu, then mine, then his again. Ground water basement flood. Chronologically overlapping second floor small flood seeping through to main floor, due to our washer’s never having been reinstalled properly. Cataract operation (mine). Insurance restoration people coming and going at uncertain times (many area basements flooded). A disposal pipe severe plug-up. Furnace cessation. Getting our aged cat to appointment for regular injection to keep him breathing despite an inherited, respiratory problem.

Power off for one extended period of night time which means Robert’s oxygen concentrator was off. Oxygen required 24/7! Only oxygen source became the remaining oxygen tanks, each of which lasts for 1-1/2 hours. Unlike the concentrator, there’s no alarm on the tanks. When the oxygen runs out, it runs out. Result: One or both of us staying awake until the power returns, hoping we have enough tanks.

Robert’s seriously declining strength and breathing ability so he could only crawl up the stairs. An unexpected ambulance drive to hospital from an evening medical appointment, our folding wheelchair and second oxygen tank left at doctor’s office. Immediate admittance for pneumonia (quite dangerous for emphysema sufferers) for a six-day stay, to be sent home, with antibiotics and reduced pneumonia. Following evening, rush to emergency because of a separate infection now involving blood traces. (Robert) Back home.

Overlapping: Patricia going mad trying to prepare accurate list of replacement costs of damaged basement items for insurance company, most difficult being odd sizes of wood and MDF pieces, three big black walnut unfinished boards and a huge unmeasured storage cupboard that must be replaced. While the dumpster was still here, I did try to do some measuring of pieces, but no joy. Too hard to lift the freezer! (Aside: Every time I go online for any purpose, my screen is infuriatingly inundated with pictures of items I’ve been checking out as potential replacements, adding to the insanity-producing factor.)

Concerning computers: I’ve also been dealing with my external drive’s no longer being recognized. It is now installed on Robert’s machine via LAN system but, his machine keeps turning off and, like mine, has to go for repairs when the challenges have been somewhat reduced. Also, my modem was acting up and finally died. Had to be replaced. Access to the net is necessary for my writing and editing work, as well as for keeping in touch with people like my only brother, who went into London hospital for an emergency operation on same night as Robert entered here. Got the overall picture? S.0.S!

And help came: When my computer would function, I sent out prayer requests to everyone I thought would care enough to pray. Pray they did. Individually, Bible study groups, in local churches and across Canada. Though I didn’t know exactly who was being supportive at that specific time, often, too fatigued to move, I felt buoyed up by prayer when what was happening was anything but encouraging. Many sent brief uplifting emails. (No time or energy to read long.)

People were God’s hands for the answers. For good reasons, I haven’t driven for a long time. Because I haven’t been driving, I can’t drive. The doctor who sent Robert to hospital from the appointment personally brought the wheelchair and oxygen tank to emergency after her shift. Our son and daughter-in-law, night-shift workers, came to Emergency and took me home and all the paraphernalia we’d brought by taxi.

Driven home again after our son and daughter’s midnight shift, Robert had returned from the Emergency night visit with yet another antibiotic prescription. Next morning, the pharmacist sent a driver to get it, return to their store, and then deliver the product so Robert would have it on time. Without having the diagnostic machines used when it was his occupation, our family Techie did as much as he could with our computers. I could then, scan again, very important for my work.

The Southern Ontario client whose book I’m editing graciously agreed to my putting it on hold until our personal flood waters had subsided, and joined in the prayers, despite the fact that the contract had indicated the second complete edit would be sent to her by June 30th.

Very kind local people gave me drives to and from hospital, to get groceries, a new dehumidifier for the recovering basement, and a replacement modem. Some, intuiting how weary I would be with the on-going flood aftermath and after the still-invalided Robert’s return, dropped off food that required little or no preparation. I later discovered that some local helpers were suffering from their own health challenges, while responding to our needs.

People are called to be God’s hands — the life savers.

Are you not recognizing God’s outreach into your life?

Do your own hands, as I regret to say, mine sometimes have done, stay idle, when they could be extending God’s love to others in need?

In other words, are we “missing the boat”?