Friday, May 23, 2008

Each Day Is Precious - Live It Fully!

One of the things that having cancer does for you is to make you very aware of how fragile life is and how quickly things can change.  Experts call it "the Damocles Syndrome."  You'll have to Google the story of the sword of Damocles to fully appreciate that title.

Last year's Thanksgiving was great, but by the time Christmas rolled around, there was a serious question as to how long I had to live.  Although all the tests and scans thus far are positive, that existential question has yet to be resolved.  The same, but in a much more urgent sense, for Senator Ted Kennedy, diagnosed this week with a malignant brain tumor.  His life expectations range from months to a few years.  I was glad to see that he returned to Hyannis Port and went sailing with his family.  A weaker person would have withdrawn in depression, anger, and sorrow.

Or take, for example, the destitute people of Burma, hit by Cyclone Nargis in the past two weeks.  One day, they were barely subsisting under the cruel hand of a military thugocracy; the next, what little they had was wiped out by wind and flooding.  The junta reports 133,000 dead or missing at this point, but given their penchant for secrecy, the total is likely much higher.  They also report 2.5 million homeless.  And yet they refuse to allow the U.S. Navy ships off their coast to fly in food, medicine and temporary shelter.  Appalling is too weak a term for their behavior towards their own people.

Then there is China, set for a splendid August Olympics, only to become the victim of a massive earthquake in Sichuan Province.  The Chinese government behavior is miles ahead of the Burmese, but they too are having difficulty accepting help from other nations when the Party is supposed to be all that the Chinese People need.
Latest figures from China are 55,239 dead found so far, more than 29,000 missing, over 288,000 injured and at least 5 Million homeless.  There is no history of philanthropy in China, so donations from outside are seen as somewhat alien.

And finally, there is the family of our nephew and niece, Phil and Lori Zenger and their four children, who live in Windsor, Colorado.  Today, they were set to depart on their first real vacation, driving the three oldest children to Disneyland for their initial visit, while Grandma Linda watched 18 month old Matthew.  The only problem was that yesterday came before today.

Look back at the weather map at the top of this post.  The junction of those two fronts is Windsor.  As you may have heard, a category F3 tornado hit Windsor yesterday, shortly after noon.  Phil was working in the basement of their ranch-style home and the baby was on the main floor, taking a nap.  When Phil heard loud noise, he went upstairs to find winds of 150+ MPH and golfball-sized hail at his doorstep.  As he grabbed the baby and raced back into the basement, his home was being systematically crushed by the force of the tornado.  Phil and the baby sought shelter in an interior room, with Phil on his knees, praying that it not be his or the baby's time to die.  They survived without injury.  Other family members were safe in school or out of the neighborhood.

After the huge tornado passed, Phil went out into the street to find his house with no roof, his windows all blown out, his vehicles crushed by parts of the collapsed house and his neighborhood destroyed.  They have been evacuated from the area and will not be allowed back in until sometime Saturday, when they will begin the task of sorting through the wreckage to find what is salvageable and what has "gone with the wind" or been made unusable by crushing, hail and water.  Family, to include Zengers, Carlsons, Wilkinsons and Nelsons, along with Church members will help, once allowed into the area.  Below is a picture from the neighborhood.

We intend to help in other ways as well.  For example, we are determined that Phil, Lori and family should be able to take that vacation to Disneyland sometime this year.  And rather than have to drive two days either way, we intend to fly them there and get them a rental car.  Those kids deserve to see the Mouse after all they will go though...  

So, dear readers, every single day of your life is precious and needs to be lived to the fullest.  I am reminded of a few selected verses from the poem  by the 18th Century English poet, William Cowper:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
 But trust Him for His grace;
 Behind a frowning providence
 He hides a smiling face.

  His purposes will ripen fast,
  Unfolding every hour;
  The bud may have a bitter taste,
  But sweet will be the flower.

   Blind unbelief is sure to err,
   And scan His work in vain;
   God is His own interpreter,
   And he will make it plain.

Please offer a prayer for all those whose need is great at this time.

I'll see you on the high ground!



Tobi said...

Our prayers are with Phil and Lori and their children. I'm very glad that no one was hurt.

Thank you for reminding me not to take anything for granted.

Sue said...

Thanks for this post Ken. We've had an unexpected turn of events at our house and that poem really helped to put things in perspective, to remember that God is infinite in His wisdom and mercy. I especially love this stanza:
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

High ground, indeed.

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

I normally read your blog on Friday like clockwork. I think I needed to wait a few days for some reason and read it today - when I was having a pity party about something else that while big and weighty in my mind really isn't all that big and weighty at all.

If the Zengers need some Disneyland guidance, I know just the family... ☺

Crazy Granny said...

Yesterday we went to help out Phil and Lori. Things like this let you have the opportunity to see the very best in people. It was amazing to be boxed up by the Mormons, fed by the Baptist, innoculated by the Red Cross, filmed by FEMA, given assurance by State Farm, and cared for by the fire department. WOW!

Matt said...


Life is so precious and so often we take it for granted.

By the way, you noted at the end of your blog "I'll see you on the high ground." To all Leather Neck readers when I tornado strikes seek the "low ground" like preferably under the ground.

Tobi said...

Kernal Ken and Queen Vee,

Thank you for the beautiful comment you left on Sylvia's blog today. You were right to worry. I had no clue the scope of the assignment I was about to embark on when Joel first joined. You and the Queen Vee made it look so easy. I thought oh yeah..I can do that. HA! I was clueless!

I just have to thank you for all of your support while Joel was gone. All the e-mails and cards kept me going. I knew that if anybody truly understood my "sit rep" it was both of you. Many thanks to both of you for your natural cheerleading abilities and numerous kind words.


Spymommy said...

I've tagged you on my blog dad. I am pretty sure this is "write" up your alley.

Lori Z. said...

Dear Ken, Victoria, and Loved Ones-
As we sit here weeping at the eloquent post by Ken, we express our deepest gratitude and love for our incredible family and friends. This week has been emotionally draining for each of us. We have felt the crushing devastation of our home left in ruins and yet somehow, a sense of peace and gratitude surrounds us for the precious opportunity this life affords us to feel the greatest joy and the deepest sorrow. We have felt the calm of Heavenly protection and the strength of your prayers and hearfelt concern for us. We want you to know how much we love and appreciate each selfless act of charity in our behalf. I can truly say..."there's no place like home!" We love you and we'll travel together to higher ground. Love Phil, Lori, and Kids