The waves on the Ross Barnett Reservoir where I live were gently rolling and dimpling this morning, just enough for the inspiration of wind and water. And yet what I saw in them was images of the roaring water that took our homes and our treasures and some of our lives ten years ago this coming Saturday.

Since Katrina, I have become a volunteer for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, leading programs in which we help people understand that anniversaries of traumatic events can bring up similar feelings to those we experience just after the event – confusion, fear, tears, restlessness or needing to rest more, irritability, fatigue, survivor’s guilt — and even the exhilaration of everyone coming together to help, the joy of seeing loved ones and strangers coming to help, the unsettling feeling of helplessness, the hope of connection. Feelings can be a roller coaster or can pause in one place.

Because I teach all this and also because I have completed my book about all the grace my neighbors and I experienced after the storm, I have had a lot of focus on understanding and processing what we went through. I was not expecting to be tender these days, but I am. Tears are just behind my eyes as I remember how hard it was. Tears flow as I remember all who sent prayers and gifts and came to help. My heart beats faster remembering the pair of doves that lived in my yard and sang to me every day. So many gifts of grace. My tears are are gifts.

In the early weeks after the storm, I had few tears of sadness. My tears flowed when people did something kind for me. Now my tears flow freely for all of it. One of my most treasured books that I lost was Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s Women Who Run with the Wolves. Just a few months ago, in the copy given to me by my friend Sherry, I found these comforting words:

Tears are a river that takes you somewhere. Weeping creates a river around the boat that carries your soul life. Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off the dry ground, carrying it down river to someplace new, someplace better.”

 This is a week for us to weep together – tears of grief for our losses, tears of joy for new friendships made, tears of gratitude for all who did so much and for our own resilience.

As we approach this anniversary, we need the essentials of healing: telling our stories over and over, connecting with our friends and family, good self care like exercise, good nutrition, rest, laughter. I hope you will be intentional about all those.

To support you in those, each day this week I will be adding a post to my website offering suggestions for what we can do to be present to ourselves and our feelings and thoughts this week, to honor them, and to heal what still needs healing.

To see these posts, go to my website

This is the inaugural issue of my newsletter. Welcome and thank you for your interest. Feel free to share this email with your friends and invite them to sign up on my website.

I have learned that everyone has a Katrina story. Some speak about the anguish of not being able to contact family and friends. Others speak about the months or weeks they spent on the coast helping. Others speak about the frustration they experienced watching on TV and being unable to come. Others speak about whom and what they lost. Katrina is a disaster we all shared. This anniversary gives us an opportunity to remember.

As we approach this tenth anniversary of Katrina, I invite you to take time to be present to yourself, to find your own inner wisdom, to know that you are one with all who suffered and served.




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  1. Suzanne

    Very well said, Sandra. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who were impacted by Katrina. Even though I was far away from the hurricane, watching it unfold on TV was agonizing as we saw the damage and people crying out for help.

    • admin

      Thank you, Suzanne. All who witnessed that shared the trauma. And I know you prayed and sent good wishes.

  2. Sherry

    This blog is so very welcome. Thank you for sharing some pathways out of any kind of disaster, whether it affects one of us or all of us.

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