Thank You Katrina - A prayer co-wrtten by Reilly Morse

Thank you for letting me understandReilly Morse
homelessness, living without power,
without television, without cool air in the heat.
Thank you for letting me understand
hunger, the pleasure of dry clean clothes and
the relief of place to sleep.
Thank you for letting me understand
the deep and overwhelming sadness
when forces, beyond our personal control,
take the loved, the familiar, the usual.
Thank you for my needfulness and
Thank you for my newfound empathy
for those were homeless before the storm
and homeless now, for those hungry
anywhere, for those in need everywhere.
Thank you for the opportunity you provided
to help my neighbor, to be my brother’s keeper,
to serve food, to patch roofs, to clear yards,
and to start mending that which was broken.
Thank you for the chance to change ourselves,
from a reprieve from the normal commercial day,
for teaching us to make do, to get by, to improvise,
for drowning our conceit, complacency, callousness
for silencing the noise, for stopping the clock,
and for the chance to act our best when the worst occurred.
Thank you for the people who reached in
pulled out the living, cradled the dead,
comforted the broken and torn apart,
wept for the splintered and uprooted.
Thank you for the people who didn’t wait
who came right away, who opened their homes,
who emptied their shelves, their closets,
who cleaned, fed, healed, held us,
who told us our spirit was amazing,
and who keep on coming.
Thank you for people who measure
their faith by their actions, and measure
their action by its consistency with their faith.
Thank you for all the people we have met,
who are new friends, new loved ones,
new brothers and sisters, new neighbors.
Thank you Katrina. Not for wind,
not for water, but for the appreciation
of the things no storm can shatter,
no water can wash away,
no wind can move.
Tom Teel and Reilly Morse

Reilly Morse is a senior attorney with the Biloxi office of the Mississippi Center for Justice. A third-generation Gulf Coast attorney with 25 years’ experience whose office was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, his work with MCJ has focused on affordable housing policy and environmental justice issues. Morse is the author of “Environmental Justice Through The Eye of Hurricane Katrina,” Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (2008), “Mississippi Recovery Has Gone Off the Rails,” Social Policy Magazine, Volume 38, Issue 2 (2008), and co-author with Karen A. Lash of “Mitigating Disaster-Lessons from Mississippi” 77 Miss. L. J. 101 (2008). He also is a principal author of the Steps Coalition CDBG Recovery Fund Report Cards and producer of multimedia advocacy pieces for the Steps Coalition and its allies. In 2006, he was awarded the first of nine Equal Justice Works Katrina Legal Fellowships. He also received the 2006 Edwin D. Wolf Public Interest Lawyer award from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for his work on Hurricane Katrina. He has testified in May and June, 2008 before Congress on Mississippi disaster recovery issues.