Beauty from destruction

image courtesy of

Summer is a relative term when you live in Houston. Warm weather typically comes in March, followed by hot, humid weather which can stretch into November or even December. We basically have two seasons: hot and wet and cold and wet. Summer months also beckon a reality which all of us within reach of the Gulf of Mexico must contend with: hurricane season.

On September 13, 2008 Hurricane Ike came ashore and covered most of Galveston Island in a tidal surge. The damage was extensive and far reaching. Entire neighborhood were completely wiped out. Beautiful, historical landmarks were taken out to sea. The following video gives a brief glimpse into the damage caused by the hurricane. If you don’t want to watch the entire video, I suggest you begin at the 6:00 minute mark. Those pictures are very telling.

Most people know Galveston for her beaches. What you may not know is that it is so much more. Downtown Galveston, or “The Strand” as it is often referred to, is rich in history. Beautifully restored Victorian homes are a huge tourist attraction. Grand oak trees lined the neighborhood streets. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ike destroyed many of these majestic trees.

But Texans are nothing if not resilient. Instead of using chain saws to remove what was left of the trees, residents and artists chose to find beauty from the chaos and destruction. Many thanks to my friend Marni White who first brought this story to my attention.

Storms, in one form or another, come to all of us. Given enough advanced notice, we can choose to flee from them or hunker down and ride them out. Regardless of how we choose to deal with them, sooner or later we are faced with the aftermath of their destruction. Some choose to ignore the damage. They pretend that the damage never really happened. If they overlook the destruction and chaos, they can live safely in the comfort of the lives they lived before the storm wreaked havoc. This may work for awhile, but in the end, living in the aftermath while pretending it never happened may prove to be more damaging than the storms themselves. So intent are they to recapture their pre-storm lives, that they fail to see what beautiful lessons and opportunities the storms, while destructive, have to offer them. Perhaps even the chance to live better lives.

To say Galveston was a disaster area after Hurrican Ike would be quite an understatement, and there is still evidence all around that the rebuilding process still have a long way to go. But while the hurricane’s fury destroyed much, it also brought opportunity to bring beauty from destruction. Once the debris was cleared away, a new form of beauty could be seen. Although many ancient and lovely oaks were lost in the hurricane, the residents and artists of Galveston created life-affirming works of art from the trunks of these once majestic trees.

But to truly appreciate the beauty, first you have to remove the debris. And to remove the debris, you first have to admit that you’re surrounded by it.

This post is part of the blog carnival on Summer, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

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22 Responses to “Beauty from destruction”

  1. Glynn July 12, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    It was the same, exactly the same, growing up in New Orleans. Except it was hotter and more humid. Although — I can remember a day in summer leaving Memorial Mall in Houston and walking to my car — and it was bad hot. Real bad hot.
    .-= Glynn´s last blog ..Michael Spencers Mere Churchianity =-.

    • katdish July 12, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

      Do you remember what year it was? I worked at that mall when I was in high school!

  2. Kathleen July 13, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    Found myself completely dunked, submerged, infused, baptized — with hope, and inspiration. Whoa girl! Statues of tenacious courage. Very symbolic. I feel a poem coming over me………
    Standing defiantly
    strong against the
    current of despair
    art rises again
    beauty for
    .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..Loving Family Food =-.

    • katdish July 13, 2010 at 12:22 am #

      Thanks, Kathleen! And wow–love your poem. How do you DO that? Beautiful.

  3. michael July 13, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    And to remove the debris, you first have to admit that you’re surrounded by it.

    Probably, my favorite line in the whole post. This applies on several different levels.
    .-= michael´s last blog ..A Goose and God =-.

  4. Helen July 13, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    I am amazed by the artistry, as well as by their choice to make something beautiful amidst the destruction.
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..Different Song- Different Lyrics- I Promise- =-.

  5. Marni July 13, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    “Beauty Will Rise” from Steven Curtis Chapman is what I kept humming as I watched this:

    Out of these ashes… beauty will rise
    and we will dance among the ruins
    We will see Him with our own eyes
    Out of these ashes… beauty will rise
    For we know, joy is coming in the morning…
    in the morning, beauty will rise

    I don’t think our God is ever more present and beautiful as when He plucks us from destruction. Love this post Kat!!!

  6. Louise July 13, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    Wow Kat! what a great post and the tree art is amazing. I love the dog leaning over the fence!
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..Summer Lies and Memories Last Forever =-.

  7. Joyce July 13, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    I absolutely love the art, that the trees ‘remain’. This post made me think of the giant sycamore tree which had stood for nearly 100 years at St. Paul’s chapel in NYC and was knocked over by debris from the collapsing towers. A sculptor used its roots as the base for a sculpture that is now beside Trinity Church. It’s very moving to see and read the story.
    .-= Joyce´s last blog ..A time it was and what a time it was =-.

  8. Rebecca July 13, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    I’m always amazed at the resilience of people who face hardships like that. What beautiful art they made from the destruction around them! Thanks for sharing, Kat.

  9. Jason July 13, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    “But to truly appreciate the beauty, first you have to remove the debris. And to remove the debris, you first have to admit that you’re surrounded by it.”

    I love this. LOVE it.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..A revelation from God =-.

  10. Lynn Mosher July 13, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    LOL! I was going to say the same thing as Louise! Great post, Kat! What awesome tree sculptures and the dog over the fence is too fun! Thank you for this!
    .-= Lynn Mosher´s last blog ..Summer Daze =-.

  11. Michelle@ Graceful July 13, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Wow, I had absolutely no idea. Those photos of the restaurants washed away – the before and afters — were incredible. I don’t think I realized the devastation. That’s the trouble…I think often I don’t acknoweledge suffering unless it’s right in my own backyard. Thanks for opening my eyes to that fact.

    BTW — that last line, about the debris…awesome.

    And thanks for visiting Graceful today! 🙂
    .-= Michelle@ Graceful´s last blog ..Summer Then- Summer Now =-.

  12. Megan Willome July 13, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    I can’t believe you’re a Texan and I didn’t know it!

  13. Duane Scott July 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    And to remove the debris, you first have to admit that you’re surrounded by it.

    Loved that. I’ve been there. When my childhood playmate/friend was killed in a car accident, I never acknowledged I had survived a storm. I thought the best way to deal with it was simply to live as though it hadn’t happened.

    It wasn’t until a year later, I finally realized that it was time to face the aftermath of the storm, and resume living.

    Not always easy. But possible with God.

    Very nice post, Katdish!
    .-= Duane Scott´s last blog ..wall of partition =-.

  14. Lainie Gallagher July 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    I love how you took this and made it personal… we all have debris that we need to face and clear out.

    What gorgeous sculptures, too! I didn’t know about this.
    .-= Lainie Gallagher´s last blog ..Halved =-.

  15. HisFireFly July 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Thanks Kat!

    Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the spirit of mourning.

    We have a faithful God.
    .-= HisFireFly´s last blog ..Savouring His glory =-.

  16. Maureen July 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    I was last in Galveston in the late ’70s, early ’80s. It’s wonderful to see what can issue from overwhelming destruction.

    Wonderful post.
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Summer Headlines Poem =-.

  17. jasonS July 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Wonderful point, beautifully illustrated. Thanks Kat.
    .-= jasonS´s last blog ..I Hate Storage Units =-.

  18. Bridget July 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    What a wonderful story of turning despair into beauty. There are so many ways to apply this to our own lives and situations. Thanks for sharing this with us… great reminder, Kathy.
    .-= Bridget´s last blog ..Summer Blog Carnival =-.

  19. Tammy@if meadows speak... July 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Beauty for ashes, I loved: “Instead of using chain saws to remove what was left of the trees, residents and artists chose to find beauty from the chaos and destruction.”

  20. Nithin R S July 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Well, quite terrifying scenes. Though its images of the places and buildings after the hurricanes, those remains truely shows the impact of hurricane. Well, its commendable that you people are able to find positive side of destruction.Its nice to use some creativity to evade the bad memories into side ways and give some new landmarks for people to see. Hope that in future, there will be less incidents like this.

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