The Literal Wildfire {In Our Colorado Community}

by Laura on June 27, 2012

It’s a strange thing to watch fires literally consume what you love-– an even stranger thing to be aware of your utter inability to do anything about it.

The small mountain town of Woodland Park that we call home in Colorado is surrounded by wildfires right now. For the past several days, we’ve watched our friends post Facebook pictures and status updates of their evacuations, of smoke filling the air and flames consuming natural vistas. The Waldo Canyon Fire in West Colorado Springs has forced 32,000 people to flee their homes to date, suddenly causing the wedding pictures they haven’t looked at in years to pull rank in value over the flat panel they just spent a fortune on and watch everyday.

We’ve read the reports on the news from half-a-globe away, and we’ve wondered what it would be like to be back home right now– the lines of carts loaded with water and bread at Walmart, the conversations with strangers at the Donut Mill, the mushroom cloud that must be surreal, hovering over the mountains, like some giant white hungry monster. One friend on Facebook simply posted this as her status yesterday:

I just want to cry.

And I agree. Because it’s a helpless, humbling thing to watch something so unpredictably destructive char the view from Rampart Range and the historic Flying W Ranch and the evergreens surrounding the iconic Garden of the Gods– not to mention the homes of people just neighborhoods away. 

And we have a room in a basement and a storage unit in a backyard there in Woodland that are crammed to the tip-top with the things that matter most, but that didn’t fit in suitcases two years ago– the photo album from our first year living overseas on the island of Saipan, the art we got from that trip to Spain, the little white dress Kelty wore in my sister’s wedding, the mix-tapes I made for Matt in high school {yes, I did keep those}. And besides the real estate itself, it’s the threat to those treasures in the storage rooms that causes my heart to start beating faster.

Our friend and sculptor, Scott Stearman wrote this on Sunday evening:

There’s probably 5-8 miles as the crow flies between our house and the fire. The sky is eerie as smoke obscures the sun and the surrounding mountains. Outside it smells like a campfire, only we can’t get on the upwind side of the smoke. 

It’s odd when you realize what is really important and valuable to you when you are making decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. I realized that the stuff I value the most is the same stuff I have shoved to the back of our closets and hidden in dusty boxes on the top shelf of the garage… pictures, family videos, the honeymoon stuff we never put into an album, old VHS tapes of my mom and dad. The material “stuff” that represents that we worked hard, holds no value at all. Our home, the “toys” we have, furniture, cars…. not worth much when I look at them next to these crumpled old boxes of keepsakes. 

Whether the fire gets here or not, the lesson is learned. I know what matters most. My family… my friends… I’ll hold them a little more tightly from now on.

And as I read my precious friends post messages deciding which things deserve space in car trunks, and as I watch the flames get closer on the Facebook photos, I am reminded deeply down to my soul

That I am not in control,

That frontline battles can, and do, rage in all places on the globe, and

That trusting in a God who promises to bring “beauty from ashes” might sometimes be very, very literal.

**************

Please pray for my friends and neighbors in Colorado Springs and all the areas up the mountain a bit to Woodland Park, the town of our heart-community and our sending church. Please especially pray for the firefighters from all over the U.S., too,  who are proving truly heroic during these long days, and for those who have lost their homes already.

*photos are snagged from Facebook, thanks for posting Jessica and Kevin.

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  • Richelle Lynn Wright

    So hard to watch tragedy unfolding in any part of the world – but we tend to file those events and only let those tragedies affect us in the statistical or hypothetical (i.e. what if?) realms.

    Much different when the tragedy takes place on ground sacred to our hearts, hurting and endangering those we love, actually posing real and drastic loss of something/someone we’ve held, we’ve treasured…

    have prayed and will continue to keep these events in our prayers.

    and thank you for sharing your friend’s lesson – it is one i’ve learned several times before; i must be a slow learner, at least for this particular subject, ’cause i keep having to relearn it over and over and over…

    praying, laura.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks for your prayers, Richelle– strange when something like this happens and even odder that we are soooo far away and not there in the midst of it.

  • Amy Stewart

    I have been watching the news and just praying that those fires STOP! I know CO has a special place in ALL our hearts. :-)

    • lauraparkerblog

      I know, it’s so very sad . . .

  • http://www.deidrariggs.com/ Deidra

    We are watching and praying, Laura. I live in NE, just one state removed but still so far away. And, of course, I have friends who are making the same tough decisions and crying the same tears. Thanks for sharing your heart, here.

    Tomorrow at TheHighCalling.org, we’ll be running an article about the CO fires. At the end of the article, we are going to include a link to this post you’ve written. We want others in The High Calling network to read these words from your heart, and to join you in praying. God bless you. Grace and peace…

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks so much, Deidra– it’s a really tragic thing to watch. And is brutal to be sooooo very far away from it all. Thanks for praying and for highlighting CO right now.

  • Adina

    It’s a very strange thing to be thankful that you guys are not here….struggling, trying not to cry, packing up the car…..and at the same time wishing that you guys were here!…walking through town, joining in on conversations with strangers, looking forward to one church service on Sunday instead of the normal two…

    So, I say this with trepidation:  wish you were here.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Oh, friend . . . thoughts and prayers with you guys. What a rich picture of suffering pulling people together . . maybe that’s a taste of the beauty to come.

      Love you guys,

      L

  • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

    I know Colorado Springs well. Praying.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks Megan, it’s a beautiful area.

  • http://www.redemptionsbeauty.com/ Shelly Miller

    Thanks for your perspective as we pray. Enjoyed your thoughts here and the photos really say it all.

  • http://www.das-leben-der-lundquisten.blogspot.com/ melissa

    A few years ago, we arrived back home to our country of service, and were in the midst of moving. We had some items that we had thought were more fragile, or needed more protection than a friend’s basement, so we stored them in a paid storage. My husband was driving in the car one morning, when he heard the news on the radio of a fire at a self-storage location. With some further investigation, we found out that it was our storage location! We were devastated to lose such precious items, but also grateful that the morning before the fire, my husband had picked up his tools, our computer, and our photos.  It also made us realize, how you mentioned, about trusting in God’s promises.

  • http://www.charitysingleton.blogspot.com/ Charity Singleton

    Found you through The High Calling. I am praying from afar like you are, though I don’t have the deep connections to this place like you. I know the difficulty of feeling helpless, though. Thank you for your beautifully shared thoughts.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks for stopping in, Charity. And thanks for your prayers for this piece of God’s country– and the people fighting to protect it right now.

  • http://messymiddle.com/ Amy Young

    Laura, I hadn’t realized we also share Colorado in common. I’m in CO right now and it’s pretty shocking — never seen anything like it. Also love Woodland Park, went to a camp many summers in that area. Am praying with you too.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Amy,

      So cool! I just love that state, for sure– fun to find out that you love it, too!

      Have a great rest of your summer . .. .
      L

  • http://www.themommyhoodmemos.com/ Adriel Booker

    Laura, I’m certainly praying. I do hope your storage unit is spared – you’re not even there to rescue those sentimental treasures. As one living overseas as well I KNOW how hard that would be.

    I’ve got friends in Colorado Springs and also from Woodland Park. It’s just scary and heartbreaking. The world is watching and praying and holding our breath. xxo

  • http://www.chasingsomebluesky.blogspot.com/ HeyMaryMary

    It’s absolutely heartbreaking.  We watch the rain clouds each day knowing there will be a storm but just hoping it lasts longer than 2 minutes this time.  The smoke colors the sky an eery shade each night…even up here in Denver.   We love Woodland Park and rent a house down there for a long weekend each summer….praying for our friends in the south…and of course for the firefighters who sacrifice relentlessly. 

  • http://beingwovenzephaniah317.wordpress.com/ ~ linda @ Being Woven

    Yes, my prayers are being lifted to our God (and have been for awhile now as we have friends near the Little Bear fire in NM).  He truly is in control and knows God has plans and purposes for His children, for all.  Yes, the firefighters and all those who are near to the danger are in my prayers as well.  I am so sorry for all of the destruction and all that is lost, yet you know what is important.  God calls us to remember that.
    Praying and caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • lauraparkerblog

      thanks for your prayers. thankfully the firefighters have the fire mostly contained and controlled now and echo your sadness at the loss for so many . . .

  • http://monicasharman.wordpress.com/ Monica Sharman

    And I’m looking eagerly for all that beauty to come…

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