Home. Such a small word, yet it is full of so many big meanings. Each of us has a unique definition, a set of requirements that come together to give us that sense of comfort and ease. It can mean anything from the physical structure of a house to a hometown, a homestead to a home country.
This summer, forest fire consumed my world.
On a dry, hot day in early July there were 49 lightning strikes in our region, and suddenly we had to evacuate our home. Simply stated, it doesn’t sound that bad; the logistics of it, however, were daunting. We had to move a family with three dogs and seven horses, with no warning and no prep. We had no idea where or how we would be living. With limited space in our vehicle, we had to pick and choose what to take, and not knowing if our home would burn down made this challenging to say the least.
We were not allowed back to check on our place for just over four weeks. During our evacuation, the house was broken into and robbed, and our 13-year-old dog, who was already ill, died under the strain of smoke, travel, and being away from home. The frequency and intensity of the emotional highs and lows were heightened to almost unbearable levels – it was an extremely traumatic and eye opening experience.
This crisis shone a spotlight on who and what we value, which parts of our lifestyles we missed and which parts we were glad to leave behind. It stripped away layers of pretense and showed, without a doubt, who we are. I became aware that I am key to my children’s sense of home. While this wasn’t surprising to me, it really made me think about where I find my sense of home. It made me aware of how important it is for all of us to try to find home within ourselves, and to teach our children to do the same.
It can be difficult to maintain perspective and keep gratitude for the amazingly generous, supportive people surrounding us in these crisis situations. It can be difficult not to get caught up in downward spirals of negativity and fear.
These types of challenges are becoming all too common as we live in times in which the global threats from extreme weather, natural disasters, political instability, wars, and economic downfall alone are staggering. On top of that, we each face individual problems; unplanned for events, sometimes catastrophic, are going to happen. At some time in all of our lives, we will be consumed by circumstances out of our control. We will lose sleep, we will be overwhelmed, we will be thrown out of our comfort zones. We can’t change the weather, we can’t control the disasters that rampage across our lands, and we can’t control the situations that throw us off balance.
What we can do however, is choose the role we want to play in the world, as it is now, and how we’ll move through our lives as these emergency situations arise. There will be times when we feel like we can’t withstand anymore – times when we struggle – and then we will adapt and keep on living. Some manage this more gracefully than others, but all we can do is muster up the strength to carry on as best we can each day.