If the Nashville Flood is a football game, the game is not over, it is not even halftime. We have reached the end of the first quarter.
Our opponent has thrown everything it has at us – bombs, blitzes, screens trick plays – scoring a few times, but we have taken the worst and given as good as we’ve gotten.
The game has settled down, and now that the game plans have been used up, it is now a test of execution and will.
This is when we must be careful.
Now our enemy is not nature, but the voices of divisiveness. They are not hard to find at all; they have been with us since the beginning. Wormtongues whispering in our ear, saying they hate when people turn against one another, yet always bring up issues they feel will do just that. “I’m just being realistic”, they say.
They begrudgingly compliment us on our unprecedented (as the Red Cross has called it) local response, yet they misread it as an acting out of grief and insist that it will fade in a few days.
Yes, we feel grief, the weight is strong on our shoulders. It came out in full force during Sunday Services this past week.
But grief is not what drives us. Anyone who has been at a neighborhood cleanup knows this. From the street, one could hear the unlikely sound of laughter or singing as the labor continued.
We are not stoic internalizers here. We have a huge percentage of emoters. We are expressing – we cannot help ourselves.
We are expressing love for our God, for our neighbor, for our friends and family, for our city.
It is love that brings forth tears, that springs us into action, that makes us push on through sore shoulders and tired feet. It is love that makes us pass out sandwiches and water and give hugs and make pledges of aid.
If one visits a cleanup site, it is there to see with one’s own waking eyes – love.
We must gather our strength and carry this spirit forward. There is much of the game left to be played. We can see the road to victory now, but it is far from within our grasp.
There will come a day when Nashvillians will gather to watch the Titans play football; sporting events are now the only logistical way to gather the town in a major southern city. And sometime during a break in the game, some of the heroes of the Nashville flood will be introduced, because the Titans organization always does these sort of things. Many of the Hero Stories will surface in the coming weeks. There are, of course, too many heroes to fit on the field, but Nashvillians understand symbolism, if anything.
And on that day, in that moment, there will arise such a cheer, such a din and cry of pride and solidarity, that the cars in the parking lot will tremble. At that moment, even the Cumberland herself will give up a wake as if in respectful salute.
And children playing in Riverfront Park on the opposite bank will see the wake, yet they will not run in terror, but will instead rush to let the River’s splashes gently kiss their cheeks, as they laugh in delight.
And then they will know, we will all know, that we have witnessed the founding of The City That Love Built.