Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2014

Page 46

Inspiring Lives

Rebuilding the Memories Craig Anderson ’74 On June 26, 2012, my wife and I fled our home and neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a wall of flame descended upon us. After a chaotic drive to a friend’s home, we sat mesmerized at the television, watching home after home burn in the People told us that the Waldo Canyon Fire. Our home was one of things we left behind 346 to burn that night. were just things, Immediately my but family heirlooms Johnnie friends reached out with support. I are irreplaceable. contacted Fr. Don Talafous, OSB, for prayers, and I received emails and phone calls from Johnnies I knew and some I’d never met. I had multiple offers of places to stay and lots of prayers. My good friend Fr. Cyprian Weaver, OSB, also offered me prayers. For the first few days after the fire, as I was coming to terms with our loss, I felt like someone I loved had died. Without the support of my Johnnie connections, I know I wouldn’t have been able to cope. This reminded me of St. Benedict’s rule about hospitality: “Let all be received as Christ.” I learned that accepting help can be more difficult than giving it, but by accepting help you often make others feel better, also. Five days later we returned to the ashes and debris that had been our home for more than 20 years. This was where our children had grown up. It had held a lifetime of memories, and we’d left almost everything behind. People told us that the things we left behind were just things, but family heirlooms are irreplaceable.

We didn’t miss things that had monetary value, only the items that were important to our past. We sifted through the ashes and found only a few mementos. Personal memories are triggered by objects that have journeyed through space and time with us. I lamented that I had nothing from Saint John’s to help trigger those memories. Again my Johnnie friends came to the rescue. Dave Riley ’74 sent me a duplicate of an SJU pewter plate. Al Kramer ’74 gave me an SJU sweatshirt, and Pete Amann ’90 replaced a Saint John’s photo book. Kilian Anderson ’09, my daughter, sent us the Saint John’s Abbey cross. All of this reminded me of St. Benedict’s rule that says “Let all things be common to all.” Last spring we ordered furniture for our new home from Fr. John Meoska, OSB, and the Saint John’s woodworking shop. We chose two abbey refectory chairs and a hutch made from oak harvested on Saint John’s property. We visited Saint John’s and met with the woodworking staff and Fr. John. They are now part of our wonderful new Saint John’s memories. The furniture is a proud addition to our newly built home. When I sit in my refectory chair, memories of my SJU years rush back—walks to the chapel, Sunday evening masses on 4th Tommy with Fr. Eugene McGlothin, OSB, the abbey church bells ringing at graduation. New objects trigger old memories as I reflect on those precious, formative days at Saint John’s. Retired Lt. Col. Craig Anderson ’74 works as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in Colorado. He and his wife, Judy Gans Anderson ’74, have built a new home since the fire. R to L: Craig Anderson ’74, Judy Gans Anderson ’74 and Fr. John Meoska, OSB, with the Anderson’s new furniture from Abbey Woodworking.

“Inspiring Lives” is devoted to reflective pieces with a Saint John’s or Benedictine theme written by Saint John’s alumni.Please submit essays, poetry or other reflections for consideration to the editor:


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