A Fire, A House, and Trust

It is with a heavy heart that I write this message to you as we watch the community of Colorado Springs, Colorado where our house is, suffer through the wildfire called the Waldo Canyon Fire. This fire started on June 23rd and they do not know when they will have it under control. They have no idea yet how the fire started.

For the first three days the officials were reporting that no structures had been lost to the wildfire, but last night [June 26th] Mother Nature took total control, shifted the winds, and blew the fire from the canyons of the forest into our neighborhood, Mountain Shadows. We watched in horror as the flames came over the ridge and down into the houses.

The Flying W Ranch, which has been owned by the Wolfe family since 1953 and has entertained us and many guests, burned to the ground. This local fixture is a few blocks west of our house. We watched other houses burst into flames. We listened to the scanner reporting that firefighters were working to save houses very near ours.

As the sun set and the skies darkened, the flames became more dramatic and more horrifying. At least the residents had been evacuated and moved to safer territory.

I can’t explain to you how it feels to hear the firefighters talking about trying to save a house a block or two from yours and then deciding that they cannot protect it. I suspect you can imagine the effect of a picture like the one above when you know that your house is behind that wall of flames. As I write this I don’t know yet whether or not our house is still standing. I do know that, even if the structure stands and many of the houses very nearby do not, our contents will have suffered the effects of smoke and water.

What do you value in your life? Your photographs, reminders of special people and events in your history. Certificates, diplomas, important papers. Collections. Artwork. Books.

Ah, the books. I love books and have been amassing an amazing library for decades. Spiritual books, metaphysical, quantum physics and other sciences, healing modalities, poetry, astrology, numerology, enneagram, feng shui. Years of journals. My favorite Regency Period romance novels. Gifts from others. Gifts from authors. 20 years of Mountain Astrologer Magazines. Can these survive even if the house is still standing?

I’ve been collecting piano sheet music since I first learned to play in the first grade. I have bought sheet music and saved programs from all the Broadway shows we have seen. I’ve collected a lot of holiday music. It’s all in that house.

We have some beautiful artwork by Britten, Pat McHold, Felipe Ortega that can’t be replaced if it’s been affected. My baby grand piano. The photographs, included a large one of my grandfather done when he was 7 in 1892. Wedding gown, Mardi Gras ball gown, Mom’s mink stole.

I admit that I’m an emotional store of memories in ‘stuff.’ But I am changing. We have had to let go of a lot of things as we have decluttered and prepared to move to Maryland. The rest of the decisions might have been made for us.

Think about what matters to you. What would you pack up to take with you if you had to leave your home? What really matters?

We didn’t have the opportunity to plan to evacuate. We weren’t there to do that. It’s possible that all we own is what we have with us at our daughter’s house. This is humbling.

But it is also an opportunity for a new beginning. Whether we can salvage some of our ‘stuff’ or not, we will use a different criteria for what we take with us and what we can let go of. What really matters? The answer to that question will guide us as we move forward.

I lived through a fire when I was a senior in high school. I was more concerned with losing my new prom gown and my parakeet. My only clothes were the ones on my back – the winter uniform of my Catholic girls’ school on the last day I was going to have to wear it. I had joked about burning this after school that day. Instead, all of my other clothes were burned and it was all I had left to wear.

But my parents taught me about their philosophy of life. ‘Things always work out for the best.’ They were so convinced of that, despite this tragedy, that I used the story for the first sermon I delivered when I was ordained. Trust. Trust that the Universe has a plan that is working out just as it should.

I remember the lesson.

My heart goes out to all who have been affected by this fire which has, to date, burned over 15,000 acres of beautiful forest, canyon land and neighborhoods. My gratitude goes to those firefighters and emergency personnel who are working to preserve our house and others. One story is that a firefighter worked to preserve a neighbor’s house a few blocks from ours while he was watching his own house burn down. A hero. So far there have been no injuries or deaths in this fire. We are grateful for this.

I pray that you never go through this experience. I am sending a different kind of ezine this week to share with you what we are going through. There are two messages for this week:

First, decide what really matters to you and use that to guide your choices.

Second, trust that the Universe has a plan that is unfolding as it must.

As my Mom and Dad said, ‘Things always work out for the best.’


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