What are you supposed to feel when you are watching the place you grew up, literally burn to the ground? Historic sites, and memories up in smoke, nothing left but the charred remains of people’s lives. Fear, sadness, worry, shock, doubt, numbness, faith, hope, a slew of emotions start, and then give way to numbness, because how do you feel. You don’t want to feel scared, because fear somehow feels like giving way to the darkness. When the sadness creeps in, it’s pushed off by a voice that says, you can’t go there now, it’s too much. Worry, comes knocking, and I want to scream, “Go away! You’re not allowed here, everything will be fine!” Faith that somehow, God will step in and bring good out of this, that he will protect my family, my memories. Hope, that the fires will stop, that rain will come early and unexpectedly, like a cleansing bath from heaven, to squelch the flames. Shock, that must be the feeling, the feeling that encompasses every other sensation and thought that comes up, because these things don’t happen in real life, in my world right? Fires don’t overtake and level entire cities, they are stopped. Nightmares like this don’t last for more than one day. Surely, the devastation will stop. The images of charred earth are a picture of a faraway place, a make believe place in a movie that plays far off of my mind, but it’s not. It’s real, and it’s there; in a place I hold dear to my heart. A place that holds people I love deeply, and memories I cherish.
Last night I made a call home, please pack the photos first. Pack the family photos and your clothes, pack necessities. Memories, and life, the two things that can’t be replaced. The things that we are all clinging to and trying to protect. In the ash that keeps falling, are charred pieces of people’s lives and memories; baby books, and photos, long forgotten children’s stories, the fabric and trail of life. And in the midst of the devastation, a piece of the bible floated down onto my friends lawn, charred around the edges, but the verse itself untouched. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23
Photo Credit: Katherine Wheeler