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Putting Out Fires

My father used to tell a story about his job and putting out fires. He sat at his desk, concentrating, and the phone would ring. A problem had flared up, demanding his immediate attention, diverting him from what he really needed to be doing. It drove him bonkers—when would he get his real work done?—until he realized putting out fires was his real work.

Disturbances in life hit me the same way. My brain constantly wants the eruptions to go away so I can get to my real work. But they won’t. Accidents happen. Diagnoses arrive. Setbacks bombard. The hot tub won’t heat then the oven won’t ignite then the two-year-old refrigerator suddenly stops cooling—major developments when your main job is keeping the house running. When these fires flame, I try to remind myself: the key to happiness is being aware of the gift of life even while trouble is burning.

Soon after I had fallen and shattered my elbow, I stood on the porch at the beach house and watched my husband and Evangeline play in the sunshine in the yard. He would pretend to run away, and she’d give chase. It was pure joy, and it filled my heart. How, I wondered as I stood cradling my elbow, can I be so happy smack dab in the middle of a wanton, destructive accident? Yet, I was.

Today, and for the days to come, I wish you the gift of sunshine. Or perhaps the gift of soothing rain. Yes, it may whirl into a storm (hello, hurricane season!). But in the midst of the chaos, may you experience the gift of inbreaking joy.

The lilies I planted on Easter Sunday when I came down with COVID have arisen.

living life with grief, putting out fires

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