Society & Culture, Practice & Voice

Holding On in Hurricane Harvey

At times like this, words fail. When a city of millions is languishing under trillions of gallons of water, and people’s lives and livelihoods are in grave peril, any attempt to contain such tragedy in thin letters and flimsy sentences seems inadequate at best, and insensitive at worst.

I know this better than most. Twelve years ago, my adopted city of New Orleans was in similar condition, and I was sitting on a pull-out couch in Houston, watching the news in numb disbelief as my plans of going home drowned with so many others. No words could console me. Most made me angry. There was no way to fix Katrina with platitudes and reassurances. There is no way to do so for Hurricane Harvey, either.  

At times like this, simplicity is powerful.

A few words of empathy and even the smallest actions go a long way towards healing. If you are wondering what to do, I have some suggestions. Ask people around you how they are doing, and if they have family, friends, or other ties in Houston. Listen much and speak little. If you must say something, then say you don’t know what they are going through, but you are with them.

At times like this, words may fail, but love does not.

Love is an active verb.

Love your neighbors, near and far, with the gifts you have to offer.  

In faith and solidarity,  

Steven L. Williams, Pastoral Care Chaplain 


This Sunday, September 3, the All Souls offering will go to Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund by the UUA and UUSC. You can also give to the offering by texting LoveBBPlate to 73256. 

Steven L. Williams, Pastoral Care Chaplain will speak in both the Traditional service and Humanist Hour. In his talk, Something to Hold Onto, Steven will share his story from surviving Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago and how we can weather the literal and figurative storms in our lives.

Bishop Carlton Pearson will preach about Faith and Fear in the Contemporary service.
Livestream of the Traditional and Contemporary services are available at 10 and 11:30 a.m.  

The Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Service Committee are monitoring the impact and are accepting donations to work with those in need from Hurricane Harvey. The UUSC works closely with local partners to assist those not likely to get help from traditional resources.  

The Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry (UUTRM) provides culturally sensitive spiritual care to survivors of mass disasters and other significant trauma. The UUTRM is alerted and available to those affected by Hurricane Harvey for a variety of direct, urgent-care support.  

Visit traumaministry.org for more information or call Toll Free Emergency Number: (888) 760-3332.

Photo Credit: People walk through the flooded waters of Telephone Road in Houston.
THOMAS B. SHEA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES via wsj.com.

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