I went on vacation and so this happened . . .
I had been reading, was just headed to nap-time, I guess the book wasn’t that good, and the fire alarms all over the building started alarming. The sound was not subtle and I think may have deafened folks living in outer-Slobovia. I ran outside along with my neighbors and stared back at the building waiting for great billows of smoke and far-reaching flames, of which we saw none. My quick-thinking 6-year-old next door neighbor had thought to bring his two favorite toys, his dad had his cell phone, laptop, and guitar. I had my flip-flops, my I-don’t-care-how-I-look-nobody-here-knows-me faded gym shorts and Fort Walton Beach faded army green t-shirt. Yup, that was it, that was my quick-thinking response leaving all of my vacationing worldly goods to go up in the soon-to-be-appearing conflagration. No car keys, no identification, no cash or credit cards, no cell phone, no laptop, no boring books, and no, not even a bible. My 6 year old neighbor happily played with his two favorite toys within inches of where I stood – his dad assured me he was too young to be mocking me, I furrowed my brow less than certain that I believed him. How in the world would I call for help, and what would I look like if anyone were willing to come for me?
Looking around, I quickly decided I could courageously run back in toward the flameless building to collect some of my valuables when around the corner came the fire-trucks and my window of opportunity for bravery was dashed. They were in full gear, oxygen tanks strapped to their backs, helmets and face masks pulled down to protect them from the soon-to-appear burning destruction, and they dashed into the building to check every corner and secure us from every possible danger. As it turns out, my neighbors on the 3rd floor were preparing dinner and evidently things didn’t go as planned at which point smoke made its way to the fire alarm in the ceiling of their kitchen which set off all the fire alarms in all the rooms in all the building. After about 45 minutes of experiencing the sweet little annoyingly smug 6 year old playing with his two favorite toys, all of us were allowed back into our quarters to continue our varied activities. I have often asked small groups, as a warm-up activity, snort, what they would grab from a burning house if they knew all their pets and people were safe – clearly my answer to that question is nothing. Hmmmm.
Then this happened . . .
In starting a day late and to solidify my gold medal – you didn’t know I was in the Olympics – (did you notice I wasn’t seen at Grace at the same time as the swimming and gymnastics events were both occurring?) as one of the world’s worst vacation-takers ever, I had forgotten a swimming suit, one of the reasons I was staying at this particular resort; earrings, don’t we just feel naked without them; and Pepcid, yes I wanted to eat spicy Mexican food. I purchased all these items and realized I needed gas. As I was walking into the station I noticed a woman sitting on a bench in front of the station and thought that it looked a little like someone I used to know from the first church I served. I headed into the restroom and when I came out, there she stood and with a bit of tremor said, “Nanette?” to which I shouted, “CAROL?!!?” and we commenced hugging as another woman came out of a stall not nearly as enthusiastic at our reunion. Carol may be one of the few people that can talk faster than me and we both were barely taking a breath at the unexpected serendipity of the moment. And what a marvelous time we continued to have as she and her husband Stephen so generously hosted me for a swim at their dock, a boat ride around Table Rock Lake, and a wonderful dinner and conversation just as the sun went down.
So let’s see – day 1, the firetrucks came and I left my room without a shadow of any of my worldly goods; day 2, I go to purchase some needed items and at just the same time a friend I first met over 25 years ago happens to be sitting on a bench outside the same gas station I choose to stop for gas. Do I focus on the firetrucks and assume I’m not meant to take vacations since people staying near me came oh so close to facing burning destruction due to my risking being away from my job? Or do I focus on reconnecting with friends as an affirmation of not only being away, but maybe even a bit of grace in forgetting my stuff that in replacing it is when I run into the reconnecting and then have a wonderful time catching up and sharing pictures – she of their children and grandchildren, me of, well . . .
I have a good friend who often shares her interpretation of some of the words from Ecclesiastes to me: “Sometimes it rains on the just; sometimes it rains on the unjust,” and then she adds this for me because it just might be that I tend to OVERTHINK certain things that happen “and sometimes, Nanette, IT JUST RAINS.” Sometimes it rains on the just, sometimes it rains on the unjust, and sometimes, sometimes it just rains. And yes, it did that too, but you know you can walk in the rain, and shop in the rain, and read and eat and watch the Olympics without guilt while it’s raining.
My lasting impression of vacation 2016? The firefighters were brave and good looking, it is the best God-thing ever to reconnect with dear friends, and sometimes, well, sometimes it just rains.