“Mom, you have to see the sky!”
I stood in my PJ’s watching the horrifying black cloud crawling through the skyline from our upstairs windows, fear and helplessness overcoming me.
I rushed downstairs and hopped onto my computer to see if I could learn of it’s cause, a fire had begun in Pulga and was rapidly heading up to Paradise. My heart sunk.
Here I sat in my living room less than 25 minutes away from so many who were in danger and there was absolutely nothing I could physically do to help them.
I started listening to the online scanner of the ongoing efforts made by the incredibly brave men and women who were present and I began to pray, fervently.
Tears poured down my face as I listened to the words pouring forth…
Children still at school.
A woman needing assistance who had gone into labor, a high risk pregnancy.
Traffic not moving as the fire raged.
Cars being abandoned.
People fleeing on foot.
Vehicles catching on fire.
Everyone working on just trying to get everyone out.
I felt ill. I thought of every single person trapped in those moments and I prayed again and again and again.
I started to check facebook and began seeing people posting of being trapped around the flames, uncertain if they would make it out. It wasn’t long before the pictures started surfacing of the charred and abandoned vehicles. I was undone and I could not wrap my mind around the reality of the horror.
November 8th, 2018. A date that most in this area will never forget, a date that will be seared into some souls like a branding mark. The day that Paradise, CA burned and tragedy struck.
So many have lost every earthly possession that they had. Too many lost their very lives.
As I write this I am watching as people are walking humbly by with food in their arms, given by a shelter a block from my home. The home we wondered if we would loose as the fire headed toward Chico, our home that still stands, and I am struck again by an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. But we are not helpless despite the feelings that may pervade us.
My heart has broken for all of these precious people; my neighbors, my friends.
God can do a lot with a broken heart though.
In fact, I am amazed as I watch so many people and businesses work hard to help, pour, serve, and love in anyway that they are able.
This is the beauty in the ashes.
The stories pouring forth make me weep anew at how beautiful it is when people lay it all on the line for each other. And so we keep praying, we keep showing up, we keep pressing in, we keep serving, we keep connecting, we keep talking and listening and holding our dear brothers and sisters as the next weeks and months unfold. We give, and we lay ourselves out. We CAN help. While no one person can do everything, together everyone can do something and that is profound.
This is love in the unspeakably hard places.