I am sad today, and I hope you’ll excuse me if I share a bit of that sadness with you. I’m trying to find the positive side of this but it’s hard. It’s hard, you see, to be a compassionate person in a world where bad things happen to good people. Where the forces of nature tear down elementary schools and send homes and lovely little yarn shops up in smoke. And it’s especially hard when it keeps happening.
Last year was a record year for wildfire and most of us watched helplessly as two of the largest fires in Colorado history burned homes, destroyed forests, and killed people. We watched Colorado Springs where the fire roared down a hillside and took out a subdivision that looks a lot like mine, and were it not for the hard work of very dedicated firefighters, might well have taken out the US Air Force Academy. This year is starting out better but there are still fires burning in several areas of Colorado. One, in fact, has pretty much taken the heart out of the community of Black Forest, and has destroyed a number of homes, the community center, and local businesses including a darned fine yarn shop.
It’s also been hard to watch the devastation to our neighbors in Oklahoma. Growing up in the Midwest, we were well aware of what tornadoes could do, and I think if you’ve never seen one in person, you really can’t understand how scary they are.
So what can you do? In the mood I got up in this morning, I could just dwell in the darkness and follow the whole story on Facebook. That wouldn’t accomplish much but it would play into my current mood. (Not like that’s a good thing). I am going to find some light in this if it kills me.
And the glimmers are there. Flying W Ranch, a Colorado landmark that was itself leveled in the Waldo Canyon Fire last year, put out a call last night offering shelter for evacuated horses. Firefighters all over the state are showing up to work in near-100 degree heat to help save homes and contain the fires. The Red Cross, who is always there quietly helping, has set up evacuation shelters and is feeding people. If it’s anything like last year, the aid will come flying in from all over the state as private citizens and organizations load up whatever they can in their cars and trucks, and drive there to donate.
The spirit of human resilience never fails to amaze me, nor our ability to come together and help when it’s needed. Table Rock Llamas (the yarn shop) has already said they will rebuild and they are just glad all of their folks are safe. So what can we do? Actually quite a lot. Here’s what I’m headed off to do, and I’ll invite you to join me:
* Pray (or send good mojo as my friend Jean says).
* Donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief. That gets help on the ground right where people need it.
* Send text hugs to my kids. They’re not close enough to hug in person but that doesn’t really matter. It’s the thought that counts.
UPDATE: As of 4:00 this afternoon, the smoke has moved north into my neighborhood. The sky is so hazy that you can’t see the mountains and I can hardly see the houses across the way. (For those of you far away, we are under no danger; the fire is some 40 miles away but it must be huge if we have this much smoke).
Some news from Black Forest is good – a local church and UCC church camp have been spared so far – but there are an estimated 100 homes gone as well as a number of local businesses. The Red Cross is helping and the Bible camp has opened its doors as a respite center for firefighters. The Humane Society of Pike’s Peak acting as a pet shelter, housing dogs, cats, rabbits and even chickens. Flying W Ranch is taking in evacuated horses. So far no deaths and no missing persons.