From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lost to Fire

Many treasures can't be replaced.



I've never been burned out by a wildfire, but I have experienced a house fire. In 1978, when I was student teaching in Warrensburg, MO, the principal called me into the hallway one day and told me that my house was on fire. I spent the rest of that afternoon watching the firemen fight a major fire in the huge old house I shared with several other college girls. One of them died in the fire, and another was severely burned.

As it happened, my room did not burn. I was able to go into the building several days later to see what I could salvage. Many things were too smoke-damaged and waterlogged to save, but at least I decided what to I had to give up and what was good enough to keep.

My sister's home burned



My sister and brother-in-law lost their home to fire a couple of years ago. Their son woke up one morning to a fire in his bedroom, caused by a short in electrical wiring. Charlotte picked up her purse on her way out of the house. Wisely, David would not let his family go back in to try to save anything from the flames. Their house burned to the ground, but no one was hurt.

Rebuilding after the fire



Charlotte and David built a beautiful new home and they moved into it this spring. Its design is highly fire-resistant and energy efficient. They have lots of room. Their community has been generous in giving them many things that they needed.

Charlotte and David are thankful for all that they have, but I know that they will always be sad about the irreplaceable things they lost in the fire. In her Christmas card last year, my sister quoted a Scripture that had become especially meaningful to her.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21, Today's New International Version)


I'm thinking about those families in California. In each home that burned, a family's personal treasures were destroyed. In time, the families will rebuild and re-settle, but the loss will always be with them. How they cope with and think about that loss will determine the real extent of the fire damage. It will shape the rest of their lives.

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2 comments:

ptg said...

Job kept his faith through all manner of catastrophes. I like to think that many of those that lost their homes in the California fires will find their faith renewed.

Genevieve said...

I hope you're right, PT. A widespread outbreak of renewed faith is good wherever it happens.

It's really a humbling experience to lose your home and everything in it.

No matter what spiritual meaning folks may find in this life-event, certainly, they can be thankful for their lives and for the kindness of other people.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.