What Is Compassion?

Our local news did a story not long ago about a baby who needed a heart transplant. One of the channels, which teeters toward the sensational, showed Baby Andrew’s picture and posted a video of him laboring to breathe.  As I viewed the tubes crawling from every tiny place imaginable, I turned away in anger. What kind of life are these parents so desperate for Baby Andrew (and small fighters like him) to have? He will be dependent his entire life, not to mention in and out of hospitals. Andrew may not fully understand what all the fuss is about now. He’ll know that he has a bad heart, but as he sits inside, for most of his life, and watches children play or athletes practice, as he is reminded by someone to take his 20 medications, as he lives in fear at every new pain, as he battles other health problems caused by medications, as he undergoes more surgery, maybe he’ll become a little angry too.

So what is compassion? Is compassion forcing a child to live and beseeching others to give so that their child can have a chance at “life” or is it allowing the child to naturally go and be with God? This particular story has a happy ending because Andrew got a new heart. It is a happy ending for his parents, but is it a happy one for Andrew?

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Tennessee Without Dry Land, But Not Without Warm Hearts

In all my years, and I won’t go in to how many that is, I’ve never seen anything this bad. Some of you may have heard of the devastating floods Tennessee experienced this past weekend. I am thankful that our home was not damaged. We paid for some landscaping last week, however, and now it’s at the bottom of our hill, but that is nothing compared to what some have and are suffering on this sunny, gorgeous Monday.

Probably the most painful pictures to watch for me was the flooding of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Opry Mills, and The Grand Old Opry. These businesses are icons of our city, some national icons, and now they are under water. The flooding at Opry Mills is nearly to its roof. This beautiful discount shopping complex was already suffering from the weak economy and now this. The conversion of the theme park, Opryland, to the shopping center, Opry Mills, has been a shaky one at best. This does not bode well for this troubled center. The flooding at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center and The Grand Old Opry has not been as devastating, covering the first floor of both, but the damage is significant. A convention of 2,000 people was supposed to take place this weekend at this beautiful resort. Some attendees were already here and now must be turned away. I can’t help but wonder if there will be legal actions after this unforeseen disaster. I certainly hope not.

As I watch the astonishing pictures from the news, I am also amazed by another unique occurrence and that is of Tennesseans helping other Tennesseans. We may have run out of clean water in some places and electricity (28,000 homes without power from reports last night. Probably more homes without power today), but we have not run out of the generosity of people helping people. There have been numerous volunteers offering boats to rescue others. There have been 200 rescues at this writing and the efforts continue. In addition, there have been reports of people offering their homes to strangers, in order to help out the overcrowded hotels.

The economy has not been good for me here in several years. I have wanted to move, to try markets in other states, but it would be difficult to leave the lush greenery of Tennessee and the concern it has for its fellow man. I love Tennessee…have lived here all my life, but I have never been more proud of the efforts by city officials, public works, and of the kindness of its citizens during this historic and tragic event.

Snow and Panic

I’ve lived here all my life—in the South—and if you’re a transplant from the North, living in the South, I want to apologize for our behavior. As I write this, it’s snowing outside. The local weathermen and women have been predicting this snow and ice storm since last Saturday. It’s Friday and it’s finally here and panic has come with it.

When I was little, I remember frequent snowfalls. Yes, back in the day winter equaled snow, and of course snow boots, silly knit hats in bright colors, mittens that would freeze on the fingertips after a few snowballs, and the ever favorite snow cream. Since I have become an adult, however, there hasn’t been a snow like this in a decade or more. There was a frightening ice storm in December of 1998. Ice covered everything and many people lost power for several days. Then there was the huge surprise snowstorm of 2006. I was substituting that day and got caught in a valley on my way home. I had less than a tank of gas and a weak charge on my cell phone—scary. I made it home, though, safe and sound and greatly relieved.

For some odd reason, probably global warming right, this winter has brought snow. We had snow two weeks ago, if you can call it that. The local weather people were again predicting an accumulation of several inches. Before the first flake fell, schools were cancelled and bread and milk were cleaned out of the groceries. The results in my county? Less than an inch.

This one is predicted to be a big one and from the looks of things they could be right. Schools in the entire state were cancelled last night, bread and milk were again cleaned out of the groceries, AND there were no movies worth seeing in the Red Box by Thursday evening. The crazy thing is people who work for my husband are trying to keep from traveling next week. The forecasters are predicting more snow and the panicky emails against traveling east of here have been pouring in.

What people seem to forget is that we live in the South and snow melts quickly. Forty and fifty degree weather is also predicted for next week, which means warm and slushy streets. So, as the long anticipated flakes fall to the ground and as most everyone, including me, is holed up in their homes, peeking out wide-eyed and cancelling all appointments, I’ll think about my Northern friends and neighbors who are probably rolling their eyes right now.