Last Thursday morning, Green Farm Road out east of town was covered with a few feet of brown water. A lot of roads in this area were covered last week as both the Walnut River and the Arkansas swelled up and burst beyond their banks. Up to ten inches of rain had fallen within twenty-four hours. And that was just one day in three or four days of rain. With US-71 and I-35 both closed south of Wellington, we had nearly all of that traffic coming through Winfield and Arkansas City. As the water receded, so did the traffic.
It’s a bit too early to say things are back to normal but they seem headed in that direction. Normal will take longer for some folks than for others. Cover “normal” with a few inches of mud and it takes a while to find it again. Whether your particular normal is a kitchen floor in a flooded house or several hundred acres of bottomland corn yellowing in the muck.
Most of the first two miles I pedaled along Green Farm Road were covered with mud. Packed by traffic and cured by Kansas breeze and a bit of sun, shallow ruts marked the heavier side. Water still stood in the low parts of fields and the rest was a shiny, slimy mud. The little white frame house which had stood like an island with water ringing its foundation had regained a more usual perspective. Fences and bushes stood with Seuss-like clumps of dead grass and brush caught on them.
Along the ditches and creeks one could see the occasional gouge, fresh holes cut by days of rushing torrent. Every storm carries its damage. Some of it can be cleaned up after, some of it can be repaired, and some of it means that there will be a new normal in our lives.
But there is a mighty powerful and important difference in recognizing that our lives will never be the same and in believing they can never be good again. A pioneer’s faith, a willingness to heal, and a patient leaning toward love will yield their good fruits. The earth endures its own travails and our God has promised to bring beauty from ashes. Even in the aftermath of crushing destruction, he is able to sow seeds of joy and blessing.