Yesterday my wife and I awoke to the news of a fast spreading fire in our home town of Santa Rosa. We are 2,500 miles away visiting our daughter and her family in Maryland. There was nothing we could do but watch and pray. We were comforted to hear from friends that we were being supported in their prayers as well. As of today the fire still is raging in the hills but our home and those of our neighbors are safe for now. However, we have learned from many other local friends that their homes were completely destroyed. There is no inherent justice or meaning in this. It is just what fires driven by 50 mph winds do in lush wooded hillsides and valleys. After we return we will be living in a very different town from the one we left.
The local parish priest here in Maryland mentioned in his homily on Sunday an incident where a stranger stopped him on the street and asked, “Father, after all these natural disasters that have occurred recently, have you seen more people coming to church?” He hadn’t noticed any crowding in the pews recently. But he did ask his parishioners to make personal sacrifices to help those who have lost homes, family members, and livelihoods in the recent disasters.
My gratitude for having a home to return to is mixed with sorrow for all those who have lost theirs. We will be working to assist our neighbors who need help through the coming difficult days. And I ask our friends to find ways to share the burden as well.