Magnolias in the Gulf Coast

"Uncertainty. That's what people struggle with most," someone confided to me on our last day in New Orleans. She ticked off the questions that haunt people even now, six months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita swept through the Gulf Coast: "What will become of our city?" "Can I rebuild my home?" "Will I have a job?" "Will I ever be reunited with my friends and family?"

But there's another side to the story. During our four days with church members in Louisiana and Mississippi, we on The Christian Science Board of Directors saw that answers to these questions are already forming in the collective spiritual consciousness of the citizens. Signals of hope pop up even in the midst of devastation, along with the magnolia blossoms of springtime. There was, for example, the homemade sign we saw in front of a shattered house, announcing bravely, "We're back!" And the worship service we attended in the Sunday School building of First Church of Christ, Scientist, New Orleans (the only undamaged Christian Science edifice in town), where people from all over the city came together in a spirit of love we'll never forget. And then there was our wonderful visit with the Gulfport, Mississippi, Christian Science Society members, who walked us through the cinder-block remains of their little church—and told us they will continue their mission to the community.

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