What Matters Most?

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Waldo Canyon Fire June 26

Waldo Canyon fire, view from my backyard (June 26)

On June 23 I looked out the window and saw a large plume of smoke in the distance, near the mountains.

A few days later, on June 26, half the sky was darkened by smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs. Within a matter of hours, the smoke and ash in the air were so bad that I could hardly see anything at all outside--just a hazy brown and orange.

Although our home was far enough away to avoid evacuations, the possibility of having to quickly depart brought to mind some important thoughts and questions. What do we take? What's important? What matters most?

I remembered a passage from Eric Sloane's book Diary of An Early American Boy: "The good things of the past were not so often articles [possessions] as they were the manner in which people lived or the things that the people thought. This, of course, is still true; the fine TV sets and modern kitchen equipment we prize now will be junk within a matter of years; the lasting examples of our time will turn out to be the ways that we live or the things that we think."

With a limited amount of time available to evacuate their homes, I heard story after story of families first of all seeing to their safety, then the importance of their photographs. Whether they grabbed collections of printed photo albums or computer hard drives containing their digital pictures, no one wanted to lose their pictures.

We value relationships and the memory of times we've spent with loved ones. While it's important to keep helpful homeschool records, and to celebrate our children's accomplishments, ultimately our relationships with our children matter far more than grade point averages, standardized test scores, or whether or not they graduate from a top-rated university.

Sonlight excels in bringing families together. Sharing great stories with one another is a fantastic way to grow, learn, and strengthen the bonds between parents and children.

What matters most? It's not the size of our television screen, the square footage of our house, the kind of car we drive, or whether or not our children are good at memorizing and regurgitating facts for a test. There are far more important things in life: wisdom, virtue, truth, relationships, the ways that we live, and the things that we think.

Robert Velarde

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