Dirty, calloused hands pick gently through rubble. They are hands that work, shape, craft. A mud-streaked photo; another crinkled, torn, and water-stained. A shard of broken glass. A twisted metal pipe. The cracked leg off a table. The hands slowly gather and sort, not just touching but feeling every remnant of countless lives broken on May 20, 2013.
People hurt and bleeding, some missing, others dead, everyone of whom woke up that morning like normal to do the day like they would any other day. Only it was not any other day. It was the day an F-5 tornado ripped apart and leveled much of Moore, Oklahoma.
I remember watching the news that day as the Moore horror story unfolded. An elementary school was practically vaporized in the middle of the school day. Neighborhoods where homes stood that morning reduced to flat wasteland just a few hours later. Cars tossed and crushed like aluminum cans. Street lamps, power lines, roof shingles, sheetrock strewn and mixed in with the stuff of moms and dads and kids, of families and friends. Our hearts cried for the people of Moore as we imagined the devastation from our safe, dry and intact homes.
Where was God? is a powerful and moving documentary about the Moore tornado and people emerging from the deepest kinds of darkness. The film takes the viewer into the storm with chasers and meteorologists and then into the lives of four families as they struggle to find meaning and rebuild.
“God has a big plan, and you can only see so much of it,” says a young teen prominent in the film. She is a survivor of the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011, in Moore with her mom as volunteers among the many onsite helping Moore clean up. She explains that big things, challenges greater than our strength to face them, are what we don’t understand. We ask why because we can only see our part of what is really a very big plan. Someday, maybe we’ll be far enough back to see how it all fits together. But until then, we hope.
Throughout the film, the director cuts away now and again to remind viewers of the hands culling among debris. And as the stories unwind, the hands keep working, a picture of God. “He takes all the pieces that are shattered and puts them back together in a beautiful way,” muses one of the doc’s characters. And like the Master artist, the hands complete “Rising from the Rubble,” Moore’s forever monument to the fallen and the heroes of that fateful day.
This Thin Line Fest feature screening is experiential. You will feel with the characters, and you will leave affected.