A hurricane and a miracle

There are tender new leaves on the Julie mango tree, the pomegranate, the ackee, the cherry, and the soursop. What is so special about these new leaves? Don’t trees produce new leaves every so often? Yes, they do, but these new leaves tell a story..

News October 14, 2017

There are tender new leaves on the Julie mango tree, the pomegranate, the ackee, the cherry, and the soursop. What is so special about these new leaves? Don’t trees produce new leaves every so often? Yes, they do, but these new leaves tell a story about survival, about God’s restoring power, about the possibility of rebirth.

Let me begin at the beginning.

The summer of 2017 in St. Croix, the US Virgin Islands, was an especially fruitful one. There were mangoes in abundance, all kinds, all sizes. Avocados–round, pear-shaped, bell-shaped– hung low on crowded branches. Acrid in bunches, juicy yellow plums, beautiful orange star fruit, and tart soursops—we made our stomachs sick with them all. But even as we enjoyed the bounty, old timers would remind us, “When you see so much fruit, hurricane-a-come.” Translated this means that so much fruit was a sign that we would experience a hurricane or two this season. Well, we continued to enjoy our fruit even as the weathermen warned of a “more active than normal hurricane season.”

Then came Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico, devastating Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas with 52 inches of rain and causing catastrophic flooding. We prayed for Houston but theorized that Houston was far from us, thousands of miles away. We were safe!

Two weeks later, Hurricane Irma was born in the Atlantic Ocean. She grew rapidly to become a category five monster headed our way in the Leeward Islands. However, while we waited for her in St. Croix, she turned north and devastated six islands near us with 185 mph winds. One island, Barbuda, had over 90% of its buildings destroyed and had to be totally evacuated.We in St. Croix were spared, rejoicing. But our glee was short-lived.

Ten days later, on September 19, Hurricane Maria, another category five, belied her innocent name, became a monster of a storm and barreled toward St. Croix. She moaned and howled demonically all night with her 175 mph winds, peeling galvanized steel roofs from houses like pages from notebooks. She pulled up numerous hundred-year-old trees as if they were mere weeds. High-tension utility poles, their wires dangling, toppled like spilt toothpicks. Maria sent sheets of water pouring into every crevice in every home soaking beds, sofas, and carpets, while we huddled, praying for our lives in bathrooms, under sinks, and in cabinets, praying even as the cracking sounds outside told us that Maria had taken another roof, had blown in another window.

Those who slept woke next morning to a different landscape—a naked one. Under a milky sky, trees, already brown, lay on their sides like fallen soldiers. Every leaf seemed to have been ripped from the still-standing trees, leaving their broken limbs bare. We rejoiced to be alive after the storm. God had been so good to us. But even as we mopped water from bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens, as we emptied gallon after gallon, we looked at the broken limbs of our fruit trees—the few that had survived and realized that we would not have a fruit crop next year, or for many years to come. The dead, dry limbs of the toppled mango trees and the horizontal coconut trees laden with fruit told the story.
Then a mere eight days later, eight days after the devastation, with piles of dead branches mixed with soggy sheetrock and wet sofas still at the side of the road, I beheld a miracle. On my tiny Julie mango tree, its leaves still charred from the blinding storm a week ago, I saw something green, a new leaf. Not just one, but several. My little tree was not just alive. It was flourishing! Excited at the discovery, I looked for signs of life on the other surviving trees. The ackee also had new leaves. The soursop was sprouting the most innocent–looking tiny leaflets, and the cherry had a few beautiful green shoots. Even the shrubs at the sides of the road joined in the green celebration. Among the mountain of dead branches and trees, there they were–precious, tender, mint-green shoots, everywhere.

“Behold I make all things new,” Genesis 21:5. Isn’t that our Creator’s promise? God had been true to His word. Our loving Father had restored new life to plants we had considered dead, beyond revival.

What about you? Have you experienced storm-caused devastation in your personal life, your job, your family, or your marriage? Do you see broken limbs on every tree, dead branches from a life that used to be verdant and vibrant? Shed your salty tears if you must. Then wipe your eyes and look at those same dead branches one more time. There are new shoots popping up. New opportunities. New vistas. From the storm-caused death of your hopes, of your dreams, comes something new from the Creator. God has promised to restore, to rebuild, to remake. He has the power to bring new life to your withered dreams, your broken life.  Remember what He did for us after Hurricane Maria.
You, too, can experience a miracle.