Hang onto each other as the world goes nuts

I’m watching the Sitka spruce trees behind my house dance in the wind against a partly blue sky. It’s not quite sunny. In fact, as I write, the clouds are expanding and darkening, but it’s brighter than the twilight we have experienced the last few days. Last night’s gusts tossed my hot tub cover across the yard like a Frisbee and sent my recycle bin halfway to Seal Rock. Small branches are scattered around the yard. But I seem to have escaped major damage. That’s not true everywhere. As I was driving home from Newport yesterday, signs were sailing across Highway 101 and branches were flying. The wind threatened to toss my Honda off the Yaquina Bridge. This morning, all the major roads east are blocked by debris and fallen trees.

Tomorrow it may snow. Or just rain like crazy while we hurry to build an ark or at least stretch tarps over our leaky roofs. It’s a stormy time on the Oregon coast, but this is typical of December.
What is not typical is all the violence happening in our world. A gunman opens fire at a shopping mall in Oregon, killing two strangers plus himself. Another gunman kills 20 kids and six employees of an elementary school in Connecticut. Before he went to the school, he killed his mother. Finally he killed himself. He was only 20 years old. All of us watching on our televisions are horrified and heartbroken.
There is more violence all over the world, people getting killed more often in greater numbers, but here in the U.S., we think it won’t happen to us. My city, Newport, is even smaller than Newtown, Connecticut, but we have seen violence, too. Remember Christian Longo, who killed his wife and three children, put the wife and one child in a suitcase in Yaquina Bay and the other two kids in the water in Alsea Bay? He’s in jail now. Remember the guy who shot the cop in Lincoln City and led local law enforcement on a two-day manhunt that came up empty? They never have found him. Remember the too-many people who have died here in boating accidents or gotten swept off the jetty or taken out to sea by sneaker waves?
We’ve had plenty of natural disasters that surprise us with their power. Superstorm Sandy was the most recent, but it seems to happen more and more. One day, life is fine, and the next day it’s over.
It’s hard to find something to hang onto when you know that at anytime a gunman, a sneaker wave, a flood, or big gust of wind can take it all away. For some of us, it’s God and a life beyond this one. For all of us, it’s each other. It’s ironic that all of this is happening at Christmas time. But the holidays bring people together, and that’s exactly what we need right now. Put up the bright lights, enjoy the good food, have fun giving each other presents. If it becomes a chore, stop and just enjoy being alive and safe and together.
The blue sky is gone now, and it’s about to rain. It may snow here tomorrow. Let’s hug each other and hold on.
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