One Saturday morning when I was in elementary school, my mom woke me up early. I was confused and, being the non morning person that I am, I couldn’t figure out why she decided to wake me up. I heard water spraying against our house, just on the other side of my bedroom wall. I looked outside and saw a crowd of people standing in our yard and across the street.
I went outside in my pjs with my mom and saw the fire truck and the flames. The newly built house next door to us – directly on the other side of my bedroom wall was completely covered in flames. And while the firemen worked to get the fire under control, my dad worked to keep our wood shingles from catching on fire in the downwind by spraying them with a garden hose. It was wild. I don’t remember being scared but I do remember the heat coming off of the house and then later walking through the basement foundation remains and finding burned pages from books. It was spooky. I also remember a kooky bird that took up residence in the now abandoned ashes. Whenever I hear that bird’s call nowadays, I remember those ashes.
As I was enjoying a leisurely Saturday afternoon today, I noticed the smell of something burning. I looked outside and couldn’t see any neighbors grilling so I shrugged it off. I heard a siren and then I stepped out front and saw the cloud of smoke pouring out of a house down the street. I clicked Copper’s collar on and grabbed my camera to scope out the action. On our way down the street, a second fire truck blasted past and then an abulance. When we got to the corner, I could hear the fire guys cutting out part of the roof. They had the fire under control by the time the third fire truck arrived. I felt guilty catching pictures of the action knowing that this was someone else’s worst nightmare. I have no idea how the fire started but I know that the house or the family will never be the same.
I know the house and the things inside are just things – it is just “stuff” and it doesn’t matter in the long run. The belongings…they can all be replaced in some way eventually. But sometimes stuff does matter. Dan and I spent over an hour on our Saturday night collecting things for our “crayons to calculators” back to school drive at church. It was a blast. I picked out all of the coolest twistable colored pencils and an awesome sparkled pencil bag. Dan collected some serious guy style things like car folders. I know these things are just THINGS. However, I also know that having those things will provide a certain amount of dignity to a particular eight year old boy and girl. And dignity is way more important than having the latest or greatest Hannah Montana or Spiderman backpack. Kinda reminds me of this quote from yesterday. Or even these thoughts from last December.
I tried to take it all in. When I was begrudgingly cleaning up our piles and piles of things that have accumulated over this past week, I tried to appreciate the fact that we have enough things to actually accumulate. We are so lucky. And even if we didn’t have all this stuff, we would still be lucky. And when I tuck myself into bed in our cozy house full of things, I will try extra hard to be a little more grateful.