Wednesday, November 01, 2006

California Wildfires

I have experienced the aftereffects of a California wildfire first hand. My wife's parents live in Claremont California and the first time that I visited them was in November 2003. A large fire had ravished the mountains behind their house that October. I still have a stirring memory of looking out their back window and seeing the blackness of the charred mountain side. I have since seen those mountains in every season and their beauty is a sharp contrast from that first image. Last Christmas my wife and I went horseback riding through the mountains. The growth over the two years was beautiful but our guide told us of how the effects of the fire could still be felt.

Every time I see the reports of wildfires in California I always ask my wife how close they are to her parents’ house. Most are not that close but the latest fires are only 60 miles away. These fires were deliberately set and have so far cost the lives of five firemen. The damage to the land and wildlife cannot ever be fully measured. My wife always seems less worried about the fires than I am. While I have experienced the aftereffects of the fire, she has experienced the fires. She and her family have had to hose down their fence and roof while the fires burned in the mountains.

This first hand experience gives her a different view. It is not that she is less concerned about the fires or the ensuing devastation; it is that she knows how close the fire can be without posing an immediate threat. She also knows to be very wary and ready to act because there is a point where the fire is close enough to turn quickly and create a very dangerous situation.

Sometimes as Christians we start worrying too early about the wildfires of life getting too close. This prevents us from living and interacting with those around us as we should. We want to keep certain wildfires from getting too close which, in and of itself, is not bad. We run into a problem when keeping the wildfires at a distance prevents us from helping those in danger of the wildfires. It is a problem when we keep a distance from those that reek of the acrid smoke, those that are covered with the foul ash, and those that are blistered raw from the burns.

Firemen never fight a fire without the proper training, equipment and experience and we should do likewise. We need to get the right training, get the right tools and partner with those that have the right experience and start saving people from the wildfires of this life so that they will also be saved from the fires of the next life.

October 2003 Wildfires.
Claremont is a little more than half way from the Los Angeles arrow point to the San Bernardino arrow point. It is almost straight west from San Bernardino.

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