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Yesterday we passed the 5 week mark of the fire and the 3 day mark in our new temporary house. It has been a whirlwind of activity. The house was furnished. We also have new things of our own to rebuild our lives so we recognize them amid the existing furniture of the house.

The people in the shipping industry in our town have been challenged by the fire families. Through support of the USPS, most of us have retained the addresses that belonged with our homes. These are our billing addresses. Our shipping addresses have been all over the place. We have had things shipped to our billing address and held at the facilities until we could pick them up. Some things were billed to our billing address and shipped to the hotel. Sometimes we had things billed to our shipping address were accidentally shipped to our vacant home address. Now our shipping address is the new house, but some things were still arriving at the hotel. Ever patient, USPS, UPS and FedEx have trailed us around town trying to make sure that the boxes of bed sheets, clothes, pots, computers, and gifts from family and friends find us. We get boxes that have the word “fire” hand written on them. Seeing the word fire makes heart skip a beat, not because of the fire, but from the sweetness of people finding us to bring us our packages.

We went to Lowes and people were kind, some even knew about our house. We left with more than our purchases, we left with sweetness. We saw a neighbor whose house had also burned. He gave us a shovel and a hose. He had gotten them from a lady had collected money for the fire victims and bought us shovels and hoses. More sweetness. For the shovel and the hose we don’t even know who to thank but we are thankful.

Amid the boxes and activity the past three days the hymn Earth and All Star has been rattling around in my brain (see previous post for the music). It has a strong tune, perfect for kindergarten pageants and processions and for unpacking boxes and remaking a home. The hymn tempo rang strong in my head as I moved things from here to there to finally get us re-settled.

David Johnson (1922-1987) wrote the music and Herbert Brokering (b 1926) the text. Hymnody.org quotes Bokering as saying he tried to gather references to the many facets of life. The words to verse 4 are: Engines and steel, loud pounding hammers, sing to the Lord a new song! Limestone and beams, loud building workers, sing to the Lord a new song!

I added my own verses this week.

Washers and dryers, hoses and shovels,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Cabinets and drawers, platters and dishes,
Sing to the Lord a new song!

Boxes and packaging, invoices matching,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Hard work and heavy, seems never ending,
Sing to the Lord a new song!

Today we went by the house site to check on the new survey. Stretched out across the open ground were stakes with orange tape fluttering in the wind like humming birds.

We visited with another fire family who had enormous, mature gardens. Their gardens were bursting forth. The trees were putting out leaves close to the trunk. The flowers looked as if they were coming back in full, lush growth after a late spring pruning. I gazed in awe at plant after plant after plant. Stretched between the black was verdant, vibrant green coming forth by the bushel. The land is renewing itself faster than anyone imagined.

Fire and ash, blue skies and black land,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Leaves springing forth, green plants thriving.
Sing to the Lord a new song!

For the sweetness of finding us with boxes; for the hoses and shovels, and for the green springing forth from the black land I thank the Spirit who continues to sustain us.