There are few coincidences, just pieces of the puzzle that we haven’t been able to fit together yet.
For example, I am still sorting out the significance of two crosses I encountered in the days leading up to April 27, 2011.
One was carried through the streets of Cordova, including right through the heart of the soon-to-be devastated downtown, on Good Friday.
My mother called me from the walking track that morning when she saw it pass by. Since it was so close to the schools, I thought it might be a project of First Priority students.
When I caught up to the cross, I discovered that it was being carried by a group of guys from Crossroads Assembly of God.
I parked at the post office and waited on them in town so I could get pictures of them coming across the railroad tracks. I was caught off guard by the lump in my throat when the cross appeared on the horizon.
The guys took a breather near the vacant building on Main Street where the church planned to relocate from its location in the Disney Lake area.
We talked for a while while I admired the cross, upon which the church members had written issues they were struggling to conquer. Their demons were common ones — cursing, addiction, anger, lust, fear.
A nail had been driven through each in accordance with Galatians 5:24 — “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”
After about 30 minutes, the guys continued their journey and I went to work excited that I had found a centerpiece for our Easter edition.
I didn’t give the cross much more thought until I was walking around Cordova taking photos of damage after the morning storm on April 27.
Someone told me that I needed to do a story on the cross at Disney Lake that hadn’t moved in the eye of the tornado.
I headed straight to Crossroads Assembly of God and found the church buried beneath several large trees.
Pastor Jay Trayal told me how the house had shaken and the roof had been torn off the storage building out back. However, the cross was still leaning against the shed just as church members had left it when they finished their walk on Friday afternoon.
Several minutes after leaving Crossroads, I found myself walking up the hill by Long Memorial United Methodist Church. I was on my way to the Old Park to take pictures of the damage there when I inexplicably turned and snapped a single shot of Long Memorial and its Easter cross.
It was a strange choice for several reasons.
There was no need for the picture because I was documenting damage and the church had not been affected by that first storm.
I took only one when usually I take several because I’m a pretty poor photographer and like to have back-ups.
It was the only time I ever felt the need to take a photo of the historic church despite having passed it almost every day of my life.
Finally, I had the oddest urge to not only take a picture of the cross but to walk over and fall down at the foot of it. I’m not sure what I would have prayed for if I had, but God knew more than I did at the moment why I needed to.
The next morning, Zac and I got up early and walked downtown to see what was left. We carefully navigated the maze of downed trees and power lines on Green Avenue until we arrived at Long Memorial.
The church looked like a bomb had gone off inside. The sight of it so broken took my breath away.
Cordova will never look the same as it did on Easter 2011. However, I have pictures of two crosses to remind that though in this world we will have many trials and sorrows, we can take heart because there is One who has overcome the world.