Parts of my hometown are flooded right now, as the Forked River has overflowed its banks, and several levees have broken after the heavy rainfalls over the weekend. Here’s a link to an article in the local paper with some pictures and a video of the flooding in Dyersburg. If you watch the video, you can see the Dairy Queen where my wife and I met my Mom and Dad for a blizzard last week after my brother’s soccer game; it was my favorite hang-out in high school.
It may sound silly or overly-dramatic to some, but watching this footage and reading articles like these has had a very stirring effect on me. These are not just interesting or astounding visual images of flooded neighborhoods and fields. This is my home, the place in which God in His providence has planted me for most of my life, and my heart is consequently tied to to the land that has been flooded and the people who are being evacuated from their homes. My wife is originally from the Nashville area, which has experienced far greater devastation at this point, and she testifies to the same feeling. We are not alone here; the same principle is compelling hundreds of volunteers to spend their days and nights shoveling sand into bags and cooking for emergency workers and lending a hand however they can. It’s that idea of rootedness, attachment to a particular place, that I have always found so beautiful. It is perhaps displayed most prominently on occasions like this.
It reminded me of a quote I recently read by Stark Young in I’ll Take My Stand:
Provincialism that is a mere ramification of some insistent egotism is only less nauseous than the same egotism in its purity, raw self without any province to harp upon But provincialism proper is a fine trait. It is akin to a man’s interest in his own center, which is the most deeply rooted consideration that he has, the source of his direction, health, and soul . . . With or without knowing the rest of the world, you can, against all odds, defend your provincialism to yourself by simple inner necessity, as you think of your own nature, which you would not at bottom change with anyone else . . . People who give up their own land too readily need careful weighing, exactly as do those who are so with their convictions. I am not sure that one of the deepest mysteries, one of the great, as it were, natural beauties of the heart, does not lie in one’s love for his own land. (cited in “The Southern Phoenix,” The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, 22-23)