Fire on the Mountain
My eyes hadn’t even opened and yet, with the first breath of the day, I knew something was wrong.
The acrid smell was smoke, infiltrating the air like a distant campfire. But this was no toasty occasion for s’mores and laughter around dancing flame.
The mountain was on fire. And the city next to it. Whipped by dry winds that carry no clouds, the rain-starved land bowed in surrender to the advancing flame. It’s not the first fire, and it won’t be the last. Almost a year now of limited rain, and our mouths are dry from the wait, the anticipation of showers but a trickle now.
The fires are miles away, but the distant plume and pungent smell in my nose are reminders that I have friends who are living in the dreadful path. I turn on the television and see images of the structures engulfed. Entire neighborhoods devoured and all we can do is watch.
So this is what it’s like to feel helpless?
The tired reporter, her hair bunched up in a ball cap, bravely tells us all lives have been spared.
I think about my home and wonder what I would do if the call to evacuate came. If I had just fifteen minutes, what would I take? What would I leave behind? I gaze at my books on the shelf, some untouched for decades. My eyes fall to my mother’s Bible and the picture frames of people who have disappeared in my life.
What do I really care about?
For decades I’ve accumulated, and so little of it really matters in the end. The earth will one day be purified by a similar flame, destroying much of what we think is important. This early reminder keeps us from getting too attached to things that won’t last.
Sue reminds me to quit worrying; worry, she says, sucks up valuable brain power that could spent elsewhere. Laura retells God’s command to Joshua. “Be strong and courageous.” Like the flame’s consumption of oxygen in a room, worry finds a way to take away what I need to live. And Ann tells me to not run from fear, calling it holy ground.
There’s no other place to go when faced with the fire, the hurricane, the consuming flood, or the twister bearing down. It’s okay to cry out. What else can you do?
There’s no other alternative when the call comes from the police station, or the note is left on the dresser, or the certified letter is opened. When the cells devour the body, or the brain no longer processes, or the heart just gives up, where else can I find answers?
Whether it’s on holy ground, or shaky ground, I cannot stand erect. The weight of earth and the majesty of heaven push me down, until I'm on my knees. And there, I am no longer helpless.
EDITORS NOTE: Like David, several of our High Calling members, many who are Colorado residents, are reflecting on this tragedy that is sweeping across their state. We offer a few of their posts for you to consider and pray over. If you also have written about the fires blazing through Colorado, would you leave a link in the comments section so that we can read your words too?
Monica Sharman's Like the Sequoias (What Fire Can Do)
Laura Parker's The Literal Wildfire (In Our Colorado Community)
Laurie Geisz's A Prayer for My Hometown of Colorado Springs On Fire