Thursday, December 9, 2010

a little flame

One week ago today, my son's house burnt down.  Every thing lost.  I had the option to fly out to Illinois immediately, to swoop in as I am apt to do- just for support, just to hug him and let him know I was there ready to take charge.  My eldest daughter Emma reasoned that it would be better if I stayed the course here, come home on my scheduled trip later and use the money I would have spent on the ticket- to purchase some things that Mathew might need in the long and short run.  I wired her the money and she replaced his cell phone, activated it, called me on it so I'd have the number.  Hopefully now his friends can call him, and Mathew and I have certainly burnt up the wires a time or two since he can communicate again.

It has been a difficult test for him, for me.  Thankfully he was not home when an electrical short began to burn all that he had acquired in his almost twenty one years.  And thankful too, for the outpouring of love and kindness sent his way by the local folks there in Williamsville.  Mathew was the first to arrive at what use to be his home.  He could do nothing more than save the dogs and watch it burn.

"It is what it is."  His thoughts on watching it, knowing there was nothing he could do but stand there as it slowly unfolded, the fire and flames.

I have tried to put myself in his shoes, have tried to see with his eyes, feel with his heart.  I cannot.  I can only imagine what it might feel like to lose things one holds dear by no act of your own, but by a natural force.  He's been through too much for such a young man, and yet- it is what it is.  He shows signs of sadness of course...but also- such courage.  Such stand-upedness, take it on the chin and keep standing.  I hate with all my heart, these occurrences.  I pray his spirit remains intact.  I strongly disagree silently- the things that have been said to him, that he relays, that I have breaks my heart and perhaps his too, when people think with their head too much in times like these.  When they say-

"God opens a window when he closes a door...."
"God has a plan...."

I do not disagree with the sentiment, but if only one might stand there in his shoes, realize that right now- it just might feel more like a kick in the teeth or lower extremities.  See, when you're standing in an elevated place, what purpose does it serve to look down from that safe distance and offer a head shot instead of a heart thought?!

This young man has been baptized by fire all his life- his character rich, his spirit iron clad.  But that doesn't make him or anyone else in a position of great vulnerability any more able to perceive the unfolding lessons that may come from disaster.  It'll take time for him to come around to faith again, little by little- he'll get there.
God may move in mysterious ways, but in times of great suffering- it truly makes little sense to interpret the signs for one who has been momentarily blindsided.  And that's my lesson in all of this.  I cannot know the inside workings of someone's heart, the low down demons praying on their last frazzled nerve.  I have to learn to acknowledge first the burden before I can offer any kind of pardon.

In ending, Mathew is doing well with the circumstances.  He has good friends, a loving family, a job and youth on his side.  He's alive.  He has still such wonders to discover, some that just may come from the ashes, maybe when the smoke clears his level of empathy, a boundless compassion may arise for others deeply, sincerely from the low down places he has found himself in.   And found in himself, a complete and unwavering faith...I do not wish that for him.  What a terrific burden, to look at the despair in someone else's sadness, to sink into the depths in order to raise someone back up. Everything within me says please, not that.  Just let him be, let him grow- safe and in sunshine.  But that's not how it works, is it?  Life is so unfair and so fair.  What doesn't kill us, kicks us.  What doesn't heal us, hurts us.  The only thing left standing, left smoldering- is a little flame.  My hope for him, for all of us- no matter what life throws at us, it never diminishes our fire.  Mathew Martin Earl Fowler amazes me...that little spark within him just keeps glowing and glowing.  I don't see how, I don't know why- but it is so.

Mathew walking through the fog


Gail said...

Oh my - I am so sorry for Matthew, for all of you actually - and yet I feel somehow inspired as well by the strength of his charcter and of your family strength and love. I so agree that the tests are often too much, and I, like you wonder why some seem to have more harsh tests than others I have no answer - it is, as you said, just the way it is. I am sending good energy and prayers to you and yours and I believe that the fog we all have walked in eventually lifts - Amen
Love to you
peace and hope for us all....

truewonder said...

Gail, your kindness overwhelms me, thank you.
Oh yes, amen.

Anonymous said...

How can you not say that God had a hand in this and does not have a plan ... a Master plan? And the people making these comments are not being cruel or speaking from their head, but truly from their heart. God protected Mathew and his dad ... the rest is just stuff. From what I hear the kindness that has poured out on them has been pretty amazing ... another example of God's plan. Just a thought.

truewonder said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Until one has gone through a life-changing catastrophe, we often don't know what to say, so we say something vs. nothing. I remember after we lost our home to a tornado we heard dozens of times "but at least no one was hurt"...not physically, but emotionally we were hurt. We didn't have broken bones but we had broken hearts that not everyone could see. A couple of days after the tornado, while our lives were in turmoil, and we didn't know where or when we would have a home again, I read a line in Guideposts magazine which gave me hope: Sometimes God gives us better than we want. That line is still imprinted in my mind and heart and words I still turn to in times of trouble and discouragement. K

Jayne said...

Thought I'd left a comment yesterday, but today saw it never posted. Blogger gremlins...

I am so sorry he is having to go through this my friend. It's in situations like this that we are reminded that things are just... well, things. So thankful he is safe and secure. This is one of those times when we are also reminded that things *will* happen beyond our control, and all we can control is how we respond to it and let it affect our lives. With you there to love and support him, he will learn that he can endure anything. Love to you all.

truewonder said...

K...yeah, we do get the signs eventually, mine was-
"To whom much is given, much is expected."
Hard to take, but I knew it was true. Doesn't surprise me one bit that you looked for beauty even in dire circumstances. Your message is one I shall absorb, slowly- surely. Thank you.

He is surrounded by love, by good people...faithfully waiting and hoping for his eyes to see.
Again, thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

dear Anonymous ,

This This is Mathew martin earl fowler .

My mothers son .

Grow up , just a thought.