Symbols amid the wreckage
October 4, 2005
Hurricane Katrina gutted Ana Weidie’s nearly 200-year-old Victorian home in August. Floodwater transformed her house into a washing machine, racking many of her antiques, soaking her letters and pictures of President Bush, and literally swamping her gardens under stately oak and cypress trees.But like many devoutly religious people in South Mississippi, she praises God for what Katrina didn’t destroy. Many people in the area didn’t ask why their Lord would allow such an awful thing to befall their towns. Instead, they spot signs of a loving God.Weidie, who lives in Pearlington, was overjoyed that her yard statute of Mary, the Blessed Virgin, wasn’t swept away even though the storm surge took Mary’s hands. She also found her statue of St. Joseph. She’s still looking for St. Theresa, “the Little Flower,” who was carried off somewhere by the epic flood.
But two out of three ain’t bad. And Weidie also finds it significant that the beautiful purple flowers of her Mexican heather decided to bloom again after the water receded.”To me it is a sign. He’s with us,” she said.A surprising number of flowers were blooming around South Mississippi. And that was dire symbolism to a woman filling her car with gas one night, north of the town of Pass Christian. When a stranger stopped to ask directions, she gladly helped out. But after righting the stranger’s course, the woman mentioned something else. Illuminated only by the dim light from inside the station, she described how her father found a Bible passage saying plants will bloom out of season to mark the beginning of the apocalypse.
“Have you noticed all the blooming plants?” she asked.Members of St. Paul’s Catholic parish in Pass Christian found a hopeful sign in a rather apocalyptic scene at their church. The building was located on Scenic Drive, only 150 or so yards off the water of Mississippi Sound.Wind tore through the structure like a paper shredder, peeling off metal roofing and blowing out large windows. Water swept through and walls crumbled. Heavy wood pews just disappeared.
Somehow, all the stained-glass windows survived, even though they were right above the regular glass. A crucifix remained suspended over the spot where the heavy marble altar once was.Mysterious ways, indeed.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org