In a Flash
After worship on Sunday, I did my normal routine: dropped Blake to get a sandwich by where we live and headed home. As I turned the corner to my circle by the University, I saw two police officers waving people away. I figured it was getting a little full from people parking for a sporting event, so I tried to explain that I lived locally but the officers just kept waving me away. They had a more serious look than I’m used to here.
So I parked in walking distance where I could, got out of the car, and headed to my house. The moment I opened the door, I smelled it. The school where I went to kindergarten suffered a fire the summer before I started there and the acrid smell permeated every fiber of the building. I smelled it right away. My pace quickened with my heart as I approached my circle. I saw one fire engine, the another, then three more, then more police, and then I turned the fateful corner, and saw it at last.
My neighbor’s house was completely charred and half the neighborhood was scattered in the street.
I got in touch with my neighbor’s best friend right away and said he should come over. When all of the people in all of the units were accounted for, we all breathed a sigh of relief. But as each resident arrived to see what had happened, they were met with the outstretched arms of other residents, other neighbors, other friends. Around the nucleus of those most pointedly affected swirled the neighbors who wondered, waiting to know what to do.
The rest of the day was spent dealing with the practical nature of this huge upheaval–making sketches of the apartments for the fire fighters, etc.–and the new arrival of friends and family to help and comfort those impacted most directly.
There is an old saying: When your house is on fire you don’t argue about where the water’s coming from. As many of us learned this week and in the coming months, many of us fear what the institution of the Supreme Court will be doing to a nation that feels at turns on fire. As people of good will work together to rally around those groups being impacted most directly, may we all seek the help, seek the healing waters of compassion for those right in our midst.
Over and over, my friend gazing at his home kept saying, “I don’t care about things, just that everyone is safe.” His priorities were clear. At times, tears can do that. Through them we see some things more clearly, especially when our lives change in a flash.
May it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.