The past few days have been intense to say the least. Watching the news has been an exercise in suspending one's disbelief that a situation could actually be so grave within our own country. And I am sure the suffering is far worse than we are allowed to see on TV. I'm sure it's far worse than words can even express. I just can't fathom what those in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are going through.
But we caught a ripple of the storm in our lives here. Dylan was fortunate (and prodded enough) to leave New Orleans before the storm. He spent three days with the family of another student a bit north of Jackson, Mississippi. They were without power, but stayed at their home until I could fly him out back to Boston on Wednesday. He arrived home with three days worth of clothes and his laptop. But safe.
Once home, and once it was clear that Loyola University New Orleans would not be having a fall semester, the next step was to see if we could enroll him in another school for the semester. I can't and won't even begin to compare this ripple to the disruptions suffered by New Orleans residents, but there was a significant amount to be done in just a few short days.
And I watched Loyola's Jesuit sister schools make that process painless. Today I moved Dylan in to Holy Cross, where he will spend the semester, and where he was welcomed with open arms by the administration, faculty, and students. The school has made room for Loyola students, working on the weekend to make sure they could be enrolled in classes that would keep them on track towards graduation; students left a holiday weekend with their family to make sure they received an orientation and a tour. I watched him smile and look forward to the coming semester - something I had not seen since he returned. I can't comprehend what he's dealing with, either - never in my experience has a university had to close for a semester. Who thinks going off to school that it would become inoperable for such a large chunk of time?
So in the end, I am overwhelmed by the kindness of others, in an equal and opposite reaction to my shock at the conditions in New Orleans. All my own Jesuit training should have prepared me to understand that service to others is what it's all about - but to see it in action is to understand it at a level I never realized was there.
I hope that kindness is another ripple that can travel back to the New Orleans refugees.