Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Episcopal Relief and Development

So I mentioned C.O.P.S. the other day, as one of "my" groups for whom we are raising funds.  (And yes, the link is live!  If you support us, that'll be awesome beyond words.)  Today, I'm sitting across the street from my office at a coffee shop on their porch in some of the most delightful weather in the universe.  (Sunny, warm but not hot, shaded.... yes, you may envy us now.  Thank you, Oregon!)  Naturally, because I'm an over-educated mostly liberal semi-bleeding-heart type (job hazard), I feel somewhat badly because of the many friends in other parts of the country who are suffering, terribly in the heat.  My aunt and uncle had an anxious start to the summer as they watched the wildfires burn across Arizona, waking up for a few weeks in their house in Santa Fe, NM to see smoke from the fires clouding their skies.
This is USUALLY the view outside their house.  

Here on the West Coast, I'm learning about earthquakes and tsunamis. True story- there was an earthquake when I was in Seminary, and I was so clueless I just sat in my chair wondering how the heck big that damn truck was and why it wouldn't just roll down the street and stop bothering me while I was studying.  It took a California girl to set me straight!  The much larger, terrible earthquake in Japan happened before we'd moved here to Eugene, but I heard early on about St. Timothy's, Brookings OR who needed help when they were swamped from the small tsunami which resulted from that earthquake.  Like most of the normal world, they didn't seek out a disaster... it found them.

Suffice it to say that in a disaster, we don't always know how to help ourselves.  That's where ER-D comes in.  We are supporting ER-D because A) we are an Episcopal Church and we just love anything Episcopal, and B) they have the network of know-how.  They can take our resources and channel them to some place where they will be used to help others in pain rebuild to a new life.  We can help someone else sleep more soundly.  

This is very important for me, as an emergency chaplain.  I sometimes get (ahem, perhaps rightfully?) called an adrenaline junkie.  I like things fast... bikes, cars, dogs... life in general.  I'm a bit ADHD as are most of my emergency colleagues... we eat fast stuff for breakfast.  I'm going to want to take the best trained people, equip them to the teeth, and send them, flags flying, into the fray to make order out of chaos.  Then, being a control freak, I want nice tight controlled borders so that I am completely in control of what is going on in my little sphere of existence.

I'll let you know how the whole control-freak thing is working out sometime.  I will not refer that question to my beloved M who probably has his own ideas.  

The hard part in emergency response is the "what to do next".   That's the great thing that working with ER-D has taught me.  They taught me about many other people- maybe they aren't first responders, and maybe they don't WANT to be first responders, but there's this huge desire in many humans to help others out.  ER-D figures out a way to say "Yeah, we'll find a way to help" to everyone. They give me ways to dial down my adrenaline-junkie reaction, to turn off the run-for-it side, to calm down a little so that together, we can figure out how to help them rebuild lives into a new sort of normal.  With a group that helps with rebuilding, it feels okay to turn off the adrenaline.  And you know something?

New normal can be pretty awesome, and I love being a part of how we get there.

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