January 9, 2018

I saw a miracle tonight. Faces which, a month ago, were shell-shocked and drawn began to show subtle signs of a shift: some had a bit of fresh color in their cheeks, while I could see a small spark of life in others’ weary eyes.  And rather than an anxious tension, there seemed to be a more relaxed openness as they caught up and shared stories with each other. And given what they’ve been through, this is such a welcome sight! They drove in from rentals, hotels, and family members’ homes to gather with other families who lost their homes in the October firestorm.

They were greeted with live jazz music filling all the empty spaces, as well as an amazing dinner, cooked and served by enthusiastic volunteers–eager to express their love in this tangible way.

The families huddled together to talk about the ripple effects of losing their homes: the losses and challenges that all pile on top of each other, leaving stressed minds spinning and hearts floundering. There was laughter, more than a few tears, heartfelt sharing, and generous listening.

These meetings remind me a bit of the kaleidoscope my grandmother kept in her toy drawer. I never knew what designs I would see when I slowly turned the bright, cardboard cylinder to see all those fractured pieces of glass tumbling into one stunning pattern after another. Those pieces could never return to their original, intact state. But because they were broken–and broken together–they were creating beauty all the same.

The trajectories of these families’ lives have been forever altered by the fire. And they themselves have been changed, but they are not broken. Instead, they are healing, discovering the new pattern of their lives, one piece at a time.


Danny Gokey’s song, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” brought me such comfort after Steve’s death. Here are the lyrics to the first few stanzas:

“Shattered, like you’ve never been before.

The life you knew, in a thousand pieces on the floor.

Words fall short in times like these. This world drives you to your knees.

You think you’re never gonna’ get back to the you that used to be.

Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in.

Let the shadows fall away. Step into the light of grace.

Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore.

Say goodbye to where you’ve been and tell your heart to beat again.

Beginning. Just let that word wash over you.

It’s all right now. Love’s healing hands have pulled you through.

So get back up. Take step one. Leave the darkness, feel the sun.

Because your story’s far from over, and your journey’s just begun…”