Monday, October 20, 2008

Smile When Your Heart is Aching

It has been my experience that some people in life are just determined to be miserable no matter what. And some people are upbeat even in the face of the worst adversity.



The second family that we met, as we surveyed recovery work being done by Presbyterian churches in the San Diego area, consisted of Diane, her son Mark and the dog Max. Diane's place is called Leaning Oak Ranch--it is really an 11 acre enclosed area. The leaning oak was a once tall lovely tree that burned to the ground in the fires.


As with the other people whose stories we heard, Diane said she was watching the fires as they raged around where she lived. Her house was down in a somewhat sheltered ravine, so she thought the fires would pass her by. Her neighbor whose house was a quarter of a mile away had external propane tanks. When the fires hit the neighbor's house, the tanks exploded, spewing burning fuel everywhere. Diane's house caught fire, and everything went.



Diane exuded a life affirming aura. Even though her place was gone, and the recovery efforts treated her as though she were a human pinball, she bubbled with affirmation. She immediately set up hummingbird feeders. She also planted flowers, and vegetables. Even the burned down oak is beginning to sprout new leaves.





To help her, the church built her a shed. She lives on the property, in a small motor home. She is afraid to leave the place, because looters have hit her place, stealing the few possessions she has left. As if life had not already dealt her a bad hand, her mother is in a hospital miles away


It is amazing that someone who has gone through the fires around San Diego last year could still be smiling after having lost everything, but Diane is still smiling.

16 comments:

LauraHinNJ said...

A lovely story... thank you.

Makes me appreciate my home.

Beth said...

I am really enjoying these stories. How quickly the rest of the country forgets about disasters yet these folks are still struggling to meet their basic needs and have a semblance of the life that was burned before them. I'm so glad you are helping and sharing it with your readers.

Jayne said...

I suppose it all boils down to the age old fact... pain is inevitable, misery is optional. We all do have a choice, and choosing to see the good is so much healthier. Those people will get back on their feet so much more easily.

Lynne said...

I'd like to think that our response to pain is all our own choice, but I don't believe it is. I think it's influenced in part by the environment we grew up in and the disposition we inherit. That said, I know a woman who grew up in a totally dysfunctional family and who suffered mmany losses of loved ones and much financial hasrship and she is probably the most cheerful and peaceful people I've ever known.

Ruth said...

Thanks for sharing these stories. What wonderful work the church is doing. The world will always have its optimists and pessimists. I have met a number of "Eeyores" and dislike the whining.

troutbirder said...

Indeed. Very very inspiratinal. I need to learn more what the Presbyterians are up to these days. My mother was one. My sons family have joined one in Greeley Colorado.
Particularly enjoyed your posts on Lewis and Clark and the Anabaptists. Recently spent a whole day in a Mennonite community here in Minnesota. What strong yet gentle and caring people and yes patriarchal as well.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Although I don't always practice what I preach, I know that a smile is better--for yourself and everyone else--than a frown.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I admire her grit.

Some people take great risk to live in and around a communty that gets the most days of sunshine.

NCmountainwoman said...

What an inspiring story. And we whine over such trivial things! Thanks for giving us some prospective.

Ginnie said...

I love the last picture...what a lovely smile and you can tell that she is a "survivor".

Dog_geek said...

It is so true, some people can be happy wherever they are, and some can't be happy anywhere. The difference is so obvious whenever you meet someone like Diane in your post.

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Anvilcloud said...

Good for her. Getting mad fixes nothing.

Beverly said...

What a wonderful story of a very resilient lady.

RuthieJ said...

I remember a few years ago going over to St Peter to help clean up after the tornado. The damage was everywhere, but I saw one lady planting petunias at the end of her driveway--her garage was gone and there was a blue tarp on her roof. I didn't understand at the time why she even bothered with the flowers, but after thinking about it for a while, now I finally do. If you give up hope, then you might as well just give up.
Thanks for this story Donna of other folks who have not given up.

Mary C said...

Donna, what a wonderful job you are doing, and then blogging about it, sharing your experiences. Not only is this woman an inspiration, but you are letting your light shine, too, and not hiding it under a bushel. It just goes to prove that having the Lord in your heart certainly gives us a different perspective on material things.