I’ve never been one to preach about looking for signs in your life. I don’t analyze a relationship and declare that there are “clear signs that we are meant to be”. I don’t feel a connection when I talk about buying a pair of shoes and then suddenly my roommate buys them. I don’t read my daily horoscope and wait for the prediction to come true. That’s just a coincidence. But today, when I needed to find hope in a horrible disaster, I received a sign like no other.
As I stepped out of the Red Cross van today into the biting cold, I was laced with sprinkles of snowflakes. At first glance, it was hard to tell which house had been affected by the fire; many of the houses on the block were already boarded up and abandoned. However, once I rounded the van, there was no questioning where the disaster had hit.
The living room had exploded out onto the front yard. A charcoaled pull-out couch was propped up on the wire fence that gated the property and it looked as if it was about to pull the entire fence to the ground. The remains of a once cushioned chair sat in the middle of the debris with the springs jarring out the middle of the seat. I couldn’t help but imagine what the living room probably looked like a week ago – full of family and friends celebrating what they were thankful for. Now what was left? I stared up at the grey sky and felt the snow hit my face. A piece of siding was swinging back and forth in the wind towards the top of the house. Everything was completely dark inside. I found myself searching for some sign of hope amidst the horror in front of me. As I gripped the top of the fence with my exposed fingers and felt the cold metal, I looked down upon what I would consider a miracle.
A heart. Besides the rubble of the fire, a heart lay neatly on the ground as a reminder that there is always hope even when everything looks dark. I wanted to take my newly found hope and share it with the owner of the house but she was too distraught to come out of her neighbor’s home. I am sure if she saw the heart in her front yard, she would smile a little bit because she would know that she is not alone in her journey to recovery.
Helping out those in the need, whether it is in your own community or around the world, can be hard, especially now when money is tight. But did you know that a $25 donation will supply 5 blankets to disaster victims? Maybe a blanket doesn’t seem as important as food or shelter, but as everyone in Chicago knows, today, December 1st, brought Chicago’s first snowfall. A warm blanket means a lot to a disaster victim, particularly on a cold Chicago winter day or night. We are ready to respond to a lot of fires in the Chicagoland area this winter. We know that there will be more than usual (3 to 4 every single day is average) because, for whatever reason, the Holidays bring fire season. While the Red Cross will respond and offer relief to the people affected by these disasters, we need help. Please think about donating to the Chicago Red Cross this holiday season, even if it is just a blanket.
I found hope today in the last place I expected to find happiness. The next time you doubt that there is a sign of light in the midst of darkness, take a breath, step back, and take another look. You may be surprised at what you find.