Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When a Tree Falls

On August ninth, a big oak tree fell on my house. It destroyed the kitchen, garage, laundry room, and a storage room, and damaged three other rooms. 

the ceiling's on the floor...
with a lot of other stuff
We were out of town at the time, which was both good and bad. The cat sitter alerted us first. The cats were fine, and taken by dear friends and neighbors to safe temporary homes. The same friends and neighbors moved things (books, art, musical instruments), without ever being asked, out of danger from further water damage.  The house was uninhabitable, but other friends immediately took us in when we returned (earlier than planned!) to Jackson. Four of us, plus one of the cats. 

We rent, so we decided to find a new place and move once instead of twice.  

We signed a new lease one week after the tree fell, but we couldn't move in right away, so the girls set out for their first day of school from our temporary home. We had stayed eleven nights by the time we moved out. Some of our stuff is still there (we've got just about everything out of our treed home), and Jeannie, co-owner and permanent resident of our temporary home, has given me an open invitation to use their laundry room anytime (we don't yet have a washer/dryer at our new place). This is a woman with a full-time professional job, a toddler and an infant, and a husband who works long hours as an elementary school principal. I am in awe.

Times like these help put things in perspective. They show the true value of community and friendship. We see this from the outside whenever disaster hits anywhere—from Katrina nine years ago to the recent earthquake in California. Experiencing it from the inside brings this awareness to a whole new level, with regard to both the hardship of displacement and the holiness of human connections. 

As we journey through these last weeks before the high holy days, I am reading Isaiah's consoling words in an entirely new light: 

I, I am the one who comforts you!
...Arise, shake off the dust,
Sit [on your throne], Jerusalem!

When life knocks us down, our faith and our friends will lift us back up, if we let them. So it is for me and my family, and we have all witnessed others (or perhaps you're one) who recovered spectacularly from much greater calamities than mine. We are all children of God, and our thrones await the time when we feel ready to resume our rightful places. May that time be coming soon.

Thank you to all who have helped, in whatever way, even if it has been as simple as keeping my family in your prayers. You have kept us afloat, body and spirit, in a time of crisis. I am so grateful for our blessings.

The final hours of Av are upon us. Here's to a safe, dry, and holy month of Elul.

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