When I woke this morning, word about the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan was the first thing scrolling on my morning news show. How terrifying. My heart goes out to the people in the path of this natural disaster and I’m praying for my dear readers in Hawaii who may be next.
It’s hard for me to imagine something scarier than an earthquake, but I’m no stranger to natural disasters. I grew up in Tornado Alley. Every summer, we’d hear the sirens and head for the basement, huddling below ground while the wind roared above us. I’d seen the Wizard of Oz. I knew the whole house could go without warning.
Once when we lived in Park City, Utah, we had to evacuate our house because an approaching forest fire raged out of control. There was no time to pack, no chance to gather up anything. I could only leash up the dogs and start walking out of our mountainside neighborhood while ash fell around us like gray snow.
At times like that, you realize the things you accumulate as you go through life, while they sometimes seem terribly dear, really aren’t that important. Walking away from my house and everything in it made me cherish the people and pets in my life all the more.
I remember my grandparents telling about losing their home to a house fire. They had just enough time to get their three children and a lamb they’d been bottle feeding in the kitchen out of their farm house before it burned to the ground. I don’t remember them ever bemoaning the loss of their things because they saved the important ones.
Fortunately, a tornado never removed a house from over my head and the forest fire was brought under control before it reached my home, but I hold my things in an open palm because of it. Things don’t matter. They can be replaced. Even the irreplaceable photos and one-of-a-kind mementoes are indelibly etched in my memory so I can’t really lose them.
Living souls are the only real treasure, the only loss worth mourning. So I pray for all the souls in the path of this current disaster. My heart aches for the families who’ve already lost loved ones and for those who may learn they have in the coming days.