How do you speak with someone whose house has just burned down...their possesions a stale pile of ash

… of today we estimate the fire at 31 square miles, (the city of Denver takes up 24 square miles)
….what started as a small local brush fire has exploded overnight, like a nightmare…
….residents describe running from their homes escaping of a wall of fire…
…sheriff’s deputy’s have been evacuating people for 36 hours straight….
…at this point containment is not a possibility, we are simply trying to save homes

excerpts from television and newspaper reports on the High Mountain Fire, in Larimer county, Northern Colorado.

Perhaps the first thing I do is wrap my arms around them and weep with them.

As I write this, I sit comfortable at my friend Karen’s house, tucked up in the mountains. I am surrounded by lovely forest and forest sounds. Hummingbirds buzz me on the way to the feeder.

Karen is a Nebraska girl. Came here in the sixties with her new husband and got a job right away teaching. She tells me that the only things she asked for were an algebra book and a classroom with a mountain view. She ended up living in those mountains, a lovely chalet looking home, atop a hill. I can’t imagine the horror we would feel seeing it engulfed in flame.

Any biologist worth their salt will tell you that fire is an integral part of forest health. Long before any kind of man lived here, fire was simply an act of cleansing, clearing the choking under-growth, clearing the drying detritus. The first peoples were nomadic. As forests were burned, new places were sought out, then perhaps a returning when life was abundant again. Sedentary living changes the game.

Standing in the middle of a damp cool Aspen grove; seeing the varied fungus and ground covers blooming neath their protective canopy; hearing the winding rustle of leaf or taking in the soft fresh pine scented air after a July rainstorm; standing knee deep in fresh powder on a silent sacred January morning – who would not morn the coming of fire?

My words of universal time, of a life beyond human perspectives, seem cold and callous. But deep within me I know, “this sorrow too will pass”. Perhaps the duality of the human pervades everything, even love: the joy of sacred blending and the pain of loss’ separation. Can there be a way out, a way to imaginatively live without a sense of nature, of the world, of even other people, as a destructive force? I cannot but think of his words, “peace, be still” to the raging sea storm, after they woke him from sleep on a pillow. What was he dreaming? And how do I go there, relieving the worried and fraying mind of its fire scented cargo?

The three Hebrew boys, walked through the fire loosed from the bindings of destruction, without even the smell of fire passing on them, “and the form of the fourth”, exclaimed the king,“is as the Son of God.”

There are many, many people, who have made these mountains their home. And I suspect, at the base of that decision, was the desire to live in the beauty of a Grace not made by hands.

What prayer can I offer that holds them, us all, in the safety of that Grace?
Give me, Oh God, the faith to hold steady to you, the only truth of living.

How do you speak with someone whose house has just burned down...their possesions a stale pile of ash


Concord, United States

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