|Sydney Sky, October 20, 2013.|
|Blue Mountains Fires, 702 ABC FB page.|
In 1994 I arrived home from beach mission to an empty house (my family was interstate on holidays) and was faced with imminent evacuation. I set about packing a car with the family's valuables.
Not such an easy job. I remember wandering around aimlessly, opening up wardrobes and cupboards, feeling totally mystified about what to take. Why weren't the things of value more obvious? I filled one box with photo albums. Then (a little guiltily) filled another two boxes with my favourite old books and Victoria magazines. There were possibly some issues of Harper's Bazaar in there too. I can't quite remember.
After much agonising I settled on a painting by my Mum. Some CDs for my Dad and my brother Nate's favourite American football jacket.
The family wasn't that impressed when I later showed them my efforts.
I recalled neighbours up the road telling me that during a 1970s evacuation (the last really BIG mountains fires, since these being experienced now) they had had only minutes to grab possessions before having to get out. Inexplicably, they had filled the back of their car with beanbags. Not even taking out the polystyrene balls to save room. It was the 70s after all! They were still laughing about it, decades later.
Other mountains friends, following a 1990s evacuation, had arrived home when the danger had passed, and opened their front door to be greeted by the family picture wall. It was empty bar one portrait shot of their Mum, who, needless to say, was slightly miffed that every other photo had been deemed worthy of being saved, bar one. Hers.
Now that I have my own house, and have enjoyed over the years filling it with many of my favourite things, I wonder what I would fill the car with if faced with having to evacuate (not likely in suburban Sydney, but you never know.)
I'd make sure the kids were safe. I'd grab a memory stick (note to self: update files on to memory stick) the kids baby books (sporadically filled in, doh) and baby photo albums and probably some jewellery (the ring my grandpa made the only piece I know is really irreplaceable).
But as for the rest? The Wedgwood china, the 50 million books, my favourite soft furnishings and Arch's Thomas train set..?
I love beautiful objects. I love the way they make our lives enjoyable and pleasing and comfortable and lovely. I feel their strong sentimental and aesthetic value. I rejoice in their beauty and usefulness and cleverness. But I also feel their transience. Their impermanence (kids breaking your china can do that for you) and their fleeting ability to add real meaning to life.
To what matters.
So today there's lots to be thankful for:
- Amazing fire fighters, giving their time and risking their lives to save lives and homes and bush and livelihoods.
- The many lives saved even while their houses were lost...
- The generosity of so many in helping people who have "lost everything". Their pain is real and their losses are great.
- A bush fire's perspective-giving qualities on what in life really matters: Faith in God.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6: 19-21