This morning my phone started pinging and ringing — friends and family texting to see if we were okay.
As I’m writing this on Thursday, May 23, it’s been only a few hours since a tornado struck Jefferson City, Missouri. I was born in Jeff, as it’s known to the locals, and now live on a nearby acreage. Seeing all the devastation has been heartbreaking.
But there’s something else to even out the scales.
We posted on social media that all was well, and soon the comments and messages poured in. I even got a message from an extended family member, someone I haven’t seen in 40 years.
Earlier this spring I wrote about the devastating flooding in my husband’s home state of Nebraska. Not long after that, someone I know wrote a snarky Facebook post taking a few gleeful pot-shots at people who send out “good thoughts” in the wake of a catastrophe.
After all—the reasoning goes—what good are a bunch of good thoughts going to do?
Today, on the heels of a last night’s tornado and being on the receiving end of those good thoughts, I’ve been thinking about that again.
What good are all they? Well, I’ll tell you.
My family recently toured the Historic Missouri State Penitentiary located here in Jefferson City.
We explored the old buildings and entered the cells where prisoners were locked, walked the catwalks where the guards once stood, took a turn around the cells that comprised death row, and visited the gas chamber where prisoners were executed.
Far and away the creepiest part of the tour was the Dungeon, the limestone walled underground cells where prisoners were sent into solitary confinement. On that damp, chilly May evening, our guide told us to be silent, just like the prisoners who were locked up in these cells had to be silent…then she turned off the lights.
I was surrounded by a darkness so deep I could hear it, and I couldn’t imagine spending eighteen years in that dungeon, buried alive.
This morning, our phones buzzed and pinged, and people told my husband and me they were thinking about us and hoped we were well.
So what good are all those good thoughts?
They remind me that I’m not alone, that there are people out there who care what happens to me…to my family. We need people to have good thoughts, and we need to share in them.
As for people who make snarky remarks — well, the millions of people who are sharing good thoughts back and forth don’t care what they think.
That’s why today I’m giving it up for any and all “good thoughts.” So if you have a chance to utter a kind word…please, go right ahead.
I can almost guarantee there will be someone out there who’s glad to hear it.