Carved from the remnants of the storm: Crosses meant to be symbol of hope

Published 3:13 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

In the wake of the tornado that ravaged Selma on January 12, wooden crosses that have been stuck in tree stumps or hewn from the trunk of a downed tree have been popping up around Selma.

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One such cross was found on Highway 14 East where the Lutheran Church Charities Disaster Response team has been working. Stu Natale from Grafton, Wisconsin is working with the Disaster Response team and carved the cross into a tree stump as a way to send a message of hope during a difficult time.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is that there is hope,” Natale said. “There is hope at the foot of that cross. Everything that He gave to us just for the mere simplicity of putting your faith in him. It has made us want to do for others what he has done for us.”

After the cleanup is done and the crews have left, the “hope,” according to Natale, is that the cross in the stump continues to speak to those who see it and helps remind them of the grace and mercy that was shown to Selma when the tornado hit.

“I hope it directs them or redirects them if they are searching,” Natale said. “I hope it puts them on that path to do good to your neighbor and for your neighbor. Love your neighbor. It’s all about relationships. It’s all about love.”

Pastor Ed Braisi, along with Pastor Steven Washington, of Trinity Lutheran Church has been working on helping those affected by the tornado. Pastor Braisi is from Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Gardendale. He said along with cleaning up the physical debris in Selma, the crosses embedded in the tree stumps or carved from them will help clean up the spiritual debris in the city.

“It’s one thing to come in and help people physically and that’s important, and we should do that,” Braisi said. “But, eternal consequences are better. If we can leave a cross there and people look at that and people go ‘you know the church did this.’ Followers of Jesus Christ did this; they were here to help us in a time of need. Because a lot of times the church gets a bad rap. Sometimes its justified, and sometimes it’s not, so we’re trying to say we want people to know the good news. Jesus Christ died for their sins and we’re here to help them physically and spiritually.”