There were about a dozen folks getting supplies at the Settlement School before I left. One gentleman came over to explain to me that he wasn’t really hogging all of that stuff for himself, that he was getting some to share. I smiled at him and said, “Sir, you do not owe me any explanations or apologies. This is set up for you to take what you need. Please don’t worry about anything like that. But bless you for sharing.” I’m not sure which one of us was closer to tears as he reached over and hugged me quickly before walking away.
There’s still a TV sitting in one of the road islands between Hindman and Whitesburg. Every time I drive by it, or think about it, I keep thinking, “That TV knows all about reality.” I tried to take a picture of it, but it didn’t turn out very well. There are signs and messages of hope all around the region. Piles of “stuff” on roadsides hold dreams and debris that washed out of hollows together, got mixed up and muddied, and are now waiting to be hauled off to wherever such things shall go.
Hope doesn’t live in those piles, though. Hope lives in the hearts of the people fighting to return to normal. In the hearts of people reaching out to serve and provide whatever assistance they can to those who need help. In the hearts of those who are now waiting to see what happens with the applications they have filed to start getting things back in order. In the hearts of children holding to the hands of parents and grandparents as they look around, wondering what happens next. Hope lives in the good things. The positive things. Not the mud. Not the things that cannot be salvaged. Hope lives in light.
Both weeks I’ve driven back to Hindman to make deliveries, a certain song has popped up on the radio. Different times, same station. It’s a song that has literally saved my life more times than I can count. “Never Surrender,” by Corey Hart. Last week, it started as I turned onto James Still Highway. Today, it started just after I crossed into Kentucky. This song always makes me dig deep emotionally. It reminds me that there is a way to get through. That survival is possible. That holding on and holding it together are viable routes on the big road of life. I know that it’s not easy to do. But it is possible. And I just appreciate each person helping to make it such — so much more than my meager words can ever express. To those of you who have donated or have helped to spread the message of the needs in Eastern Kentucky, God bless you. You mean so much to me. You warm my heart. And believe me when I tell you, you’re making a difference for so many!