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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From the Ashes

One year ago today my family's beloved mountain home burned down in a forest fire.

What a lesson. What a reminder. Life is so much more than things. We try to build up a kingdom for ourselves, collecting up and piling up, and in the process we get caught up and swept up and life gets complicated by our things. But the new car smell quickly fades and the sparkle grows dim. Things burn and break and rust, and our only chance of sanity in this never ending rat-race is to hold on tightly and thankfully and try not to miss a single moment of the good stuff that really makes up a life.

Our mountain home was so special. It meant weekend getaways and family and good friends and stories and memories and laughter and lazy mornings in pajamas and slumber parties with grandparents and peace and quiet and sitting on the deck counting shooting stars and tipping over in kayaks and board games and simplicity and falling asleep 15 minutes into a movie you've seen 50 times and warm blankets and hours upon hours of aimless conversation about everything and nothing with some of the dearest people in my universe.

There are those perfect moments that come around every so often, but not nearly often enough, and I'm working on recognizing and snatching them up before they're gone. Those moments when the air is perfectly still and everything seems to be perfectly okay in your little niche of the world. Those moments when you feel safe and sound and entirely content, surrounded by the people that you love. In those moments I would give anything just to bring the spinning of the world to a standstill, freeze the setting and the people and the scenery just as they are, preserve this fragile moment just as it is and sweep it up to put it in my pocket so that I could carry it close and revisit the warmth and the goodness for years and years to come. In those perfect moments, you look around and realize that these people are the best treasures you've got. So even if your house burned down and even if your things burned up, you could step back from the ashes and brush yourself off, feeling blessed beyond measure because really, you've still got it all.

Last weekend we revisited the empty lot, now barren with no trace of our once lively and magical retreat. The house and all the things that once filled it are now only a trillion little specks of dust intertwined with the dirt. It's as if the house never existed, but the memories continue on to live a life of their own. And out of devastation and loss springs hope. Delicate little wildflowers have somehow found their way up through darkness, up through the ashes, reaching and stretching towards a bright, clear sky.