Sunday, May 08, 2016

Grace in a rush

A mug taken on retreat. What do I need?
Almost thirty years ago I had a fire which destroyed most of the kitchen in the house I'd moved into two weeks before.  I did as I'd been taught in the lab safety class when I was a graduate student, using the fire extinguisher on the fire, as I backed out the door.  I banged on a neighbor's door, "Hi, I'm your new neighbor, can you call 911? My house is on fire."

Seven fire trucks came (this was overkill, but nonetheless appreciated), and when all was said and done, my kitchen was a sodden mass on the driveway. Dry wall, cabinets with the dishes in them pulled down and thrown onto the driveway, a sooty grey mass, not even the broken glass sparkling. All the walls in the house covered in smoke to within an foot of the floor.

After it was all said and done, I stood on the driveway and wept, not for the broken dishes, but for the upheaval of it all.  Where would I sleep?  Cook? There had been no time to grab anything, all my attention had been on the fire.

I thought about that afternoon tonight as I found myself with 10 minutes at the end of a busy day to grab what I might need to spend the night at the homeless shelter.  Sleeping bag.  Pillow.  Got it. Thermos?  Did I remember my reading glasses?  My book!

I relieved the sister on duty, and rolled my sleeping bag out on the air mattress by the front door and went to text Math Man.  Phone?  Where is my phone?  In the car, as it turned out, but there was that moment when I wondered how I would manage without the phone that is alarm and calculator and communicator all rolled into one.

This morning when I came home, I read of the evacuations in Fort McMurray.  No chance to go home, no idea when they can go home, if there is a home.

There are some lessons I need to keep learning.


  1. Thank you for the reminder, and for putting things into perspective. On Monday morning I was in a minor car accident (no injuries, and only minimal damage to my car that my insurance will cover); but on Monday evening, my phone charge ran out several hours before I was able to get home and to my charger. My brain: "What if I get in another accident? What if my insurance company is trying to get ahold of me? What if…" The reality: It was only a couple of hours; I have voicemail; and if it had been a couple of years ago, I wouldn't have had my phone with me anyways. So many people in this world have so many more serious problems to deal with. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Kate, glad that all is well; and glad, too, to be reminded that I'm not the only one!