Today is the grim anniversary of a devastating weather event in Southern Ontario. A string of tornadoes swept through this part of the province, including the Barrie area where we lived at the time. I was driving home from the annual meeting of Toronto Conference of the United Church which was in Barrie that year when the tornado struck. I was forced to pull off the road as my car rocked back and forth and debris flew through the air.
Within a couple of minutes the dark skies cleared and I continued home, unaware that the area I'd just passed through was chaos, with transport trucks tossed off the highway and large buildings destroyed. Sadly, a number of people died and later that same evening a couple from my congregation discovered the body of a boy who had been out cycling and was caught up in the tornado.
That evening I wrote about these bewildering events in my personal journal, which until then I'd kept sporadically. I decided to write every day for a month, not just about the aftermath of the storm but about the demands of ministry and the joys of family life. Our first daughter was three months old at the time. In the 36 years since I've only missed writing a handful of days.
My journal has also been an opportunity for spiritual reflection, a place to express gratitude through the seasons of the year, and to be concrete in my prayers. It's interesting how writing a prayer coalesces thoughts and emotions.
I offered a three-week study group on journal-keeping earlier this year with lots of participants and good conversation. I found the journal from all those years ago
I wonder how its going for the folks who took part with their journals. God know that these pandemic months have been momentous. This anniversary of a catastrophe is a reminder that reflection is important in every aspect of life.