photo credit: Flickr Annia316
Last week, my husband and I were preparing to fly to Ohio to attend a conference. At 5:30AM on that dark Wednesday morning as I was putting my suitcase by the door, I got a glimpse of something small and furry running down the hallway. I had to do a double take to assess what I saw, after all it was pretty early and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. Oops, nope, it was moving. Definitely a rodent. HOLY COW!
After screaming at the top of my lungs for my husband to come save me, I realized I recognized that rodent. He wasn’t just any common rat, he was our furry hamster, Cheddar (Cheds for short). Because I will not pick up ANYTHING that resembles a rodent, my husband came running to corner Cheds and get him back to the safety of his cage. This was his first success at escaping and he was not one bit happy that he was caught.
Suddenly, something happened.
Just as we were getting Cheds back into the cage and reaching for duct tape to secure him inside (well, not duct-taping HIM, but the place where he chewed through his cage), we heard a big BOOM echoing through the silence of the early morning. Along with the BOOM, the lights went out. It was now PITCH BLACK. And, as any smart rodent would do, off ran Cheds, back to freedom! Can you believe it? The hamster was now free to escape in a dark house! It was a rodent’s dream come true.
As we ran around in the dark looking for a flashlight and crawling on hands and knees trying to find Cheds, we were completely unaware of a more serious drama unfolding just up the hill from us. While we were experiencing a silly, annoying and minor “incident,” our neighbors’ life was slipping out from under them.
A Life Changing Moment
Just up the hill from us, at 5:30AM a neighbor awoke to a loud cracking sound. Before she could get outside to safety, her beautiful home overlooking the city started crumbling all around her, sliding down the hillside, busting into bits and taking another couple of houses along with it. Water lines were breaking and power lines snapped.
Our friends (who shared their beach house with us during the wedding) heard the ruckus across the street and ran outside. They rescued the homeowner with a ladder as she clung to chunks of her house that were sliding down the hill and landing in a giant heap of rubble. It was a nightmare. In a matter of moments, the house was gone.
All we could see at the time was the inconvenience of trying to find a furry hamster in the dark, but in the bigger picture of life around us, our neighbor was watching everything she had crumble before her eyes. I can’t imagine experiencing the horror she (and the other neighbors involved) went through that morning and what she will face in the months to come in dealing with what is left of her home.
When my husband and I got back from our trip yesterday, we walked up the hill to see firsthand what had happened. It was unbelievable. Where her lovely home once stood, a house where we had hung out for block parties, there was nothing but a gaping hole of dirt. Her lot is completely gone. In the ravine far below, windows, cars, doors, and personal belongings are scattered among big chunks of the neighbor’s house — all laying in a heap.
This experience made me pause. You can’t see something like that happen and not step back and think. What do I truly value? What if everything I have was stripped away from me, snatched from my hands and tossed into a pile of rubble? What is important to have in life and what can I do without? How would I cope with something like this? Suddenly, life feels different. Something like this makes you want to hug your kids and be so grateful for what you have. And it makes your heart break for someone else.
I like to keep a balance of appreciating beauty and recognizing how really fleeting “stuff” really is. As one who has a warm home to come home to every night, it is eye-opening to see someone else’s home slide down a hillside and crumble into kindling. None of us are immune to disaster, none of us are guaranteed a home or any other thing we might take for granted. With all the uncertainty in life, it is a good time to think about what we really need and what we can do to help others in times of trouble.
Because it is Blog Action Day, I invite you all to check out all the participating blogs discussing the topic of poverty (see link below). We sometimes need to pause and reflect not only on our blessings but on the needs of others.
House photos credit: Oregon Live