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Letters to Loyola: A Prayer After Ida

September 10, 2021

Dear Loyola,

This week the Jewish members of our community celebrated Rosh Hashanah and the start of the High Holy Days – a time for all of us to look inward, to be honest with ourselves about the ways we can do better. I have been praying hard about what we can learn from the brutal experience of this year (because finding meaning in suffering is both very Jewish and very Catholic).    

What I feel most intensely right now is humility. Humility in the face of the power of nature.  Humility in the face of the daunting challenges of these last two weeks.  

Hurricanes strip away our illusions of control. They displace us, taking away the security of our homes and the comfort of air conditioning and electricity. They require us to humble ourselves to accept the generosity of others, sleeping on the sofas of friends and trying not to let the puppy (or toddler) destroy anything.  

They make every problem more complicated, every logistical hurdle more daunting. We wait in endless lines.  We pray for the mercy of faceless bureaucracies.  

But, of course, these are the experiences that the poor endure every day. As some of you know first-hand, poverty exhausts people, with daunting hurdles and grinding uncertainty.   

My prayer today is that the rest of us remember this feeling before it fades. That we understand that our ability to get through this experience had very little to do with our own cleverness or superiority, but rather twists of fate and the willingness of others to help.  

I pray that we hold these insights in our hearts, even after the power goes on and our streets are cleared of the visible chaos. I pray that we – as our faith commands – stop turning away from the poor, stop blaming them for situations that would floor us as well.   

I pray that our instincts in situations like these – to rescue the flooded, feed the hungry and care for our elderly neighbors – stay with us so that we can maintain that sense of urgency without need of a crisis. 

We thank God for the strength we mustered to get through Hurricane Ida. And we pray – at Mass, at Kol Nidre Services, in our churches and mosques – that we will be forever changed by what we have learned. We pray to hold onto the blessing of humility, and that it will motivate us to make the world a better place.  

I hope that you find your way back to campus quickly and safely, whether you’re driving from across the country or facing the even more daunting journey from the devastation of Houma. I cannot wait for us to come back together as a community, to help each other, to become better people and to feel the collective joy of Loyola again.  

Prayers and blessings,

Tania Tetlow