The t's were crossed and i's dotted for this issue with our special focus on books and music when Hurricane Katrina roared into the Gulf Coast stringing houses, cars, and boats together like so many beads. For thousands, the comfort and safety of home is gone, the favorite chair in a favorite room, the way the back door creaked, the billowy tree outside. Damaged are the wrought-iron balconies of New Orleans and the shrimp boats. Even more terrible is the loss of sisters, fathers, and grandmothers, of separated families, of emotional, physical, and spiritual trauma. Katrina's winds and waters left devastated lives and a damaged region that won't regain a sense of normalcy for a long time.
Of course, normalcy was an elusive state for thousands of Gulf Coast residents whose living conditions were already tenuous. As we've seen, one effect of Katrina's pounding is the confirmation and, yes, surprise from many that only some partake in our country's abundance. We have much to learn about loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Like so many of you, we have awaited word of friends and family living in the Gulf Coast, added our prayers of grief and mourning, and given resources to groups providing relief there. We are heartened to witness the opening of cities, schools, and churches to evacuees, and we pray that, like those who have held the hands of displaced kindergartners bravely marching up the steps of their new schools, we keep opening our arms to those in need one, three, and five years down the road.