Monday, May 23, 2011

Every picture tells a story

If, as it is said, every picture tells a story, the book on what has befallen the small city of Joplin, Mo., will not be one of happy endings -- not anytime soon.

It will read as a tragedy, an almost unspeakable tragedy.

Early reports from the tornado-ravaged city put the death toll at 24. The Joplin Globe says officials fear the death toll will surpass 100, this in a city of just over 49,000. The stories of scores of lives in that corner of southwest Missouri will read as tragedies -- tragedies that climax in terrifying and horrific fashion.

What story does the above photo of St. John's Regional Medical Center tell? A shattered building once filled with the sick, and with doctors and nurses. A crumpled, upended medevac helicopter, tossed into a sea of crumpled cars -- this symbol of mercy and hope turned into one of devastation and mayhem.

WHAT STORY did the camera capture here, amid the rubble, the flames and the newly homeless? How many stories does this one news photo tell?

How great is our illusion -- our human delusion -- that we are in control of anything in this life. Just a day ago, a self-important hack "theologian" in Oakland, Calif., had the world focused on an Apocalypse that never came. On a Rapture that lifted no one unto heaven.

Today, this apocalypse came in an instant, unheralded and unforeseen. The "Rapture," in a real sense, came for many in the twinkling of an eye when hell touched down upon God's country.

Where is Harold Camping and Family Radio now? Can we recover the $100 million a vain and foolish man spent on spreading false prophecy and apply it instead toward God's mercy upon a small city in a far corner of Missouri?

LOOK HERE. What story, this?

All the king's forces and all the king's men . . . reduced to two brave souls, a sole injured one, a salvaged mattress and a commandeered pickup truck?

How a disaster can come so suddenly and be so big as to overwhelm the capability of civil society, or municipal government?

The ingenuity and grace of citizens in the middle of America amid unthinkable horror and unending devastation?

The triumph of the human spirit?

The desperate fight for life?

Every picture tells a story. Some tell several.

A new, horrible chapter in the story of Joplin, Mo., is being written before the camera's eye. May God have mercy on those who climbed out of the rubble . . . and on the souls of those who did not.

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