California is burning. Again. Has California burned every year, without me being aware of it? Because for the past few years it has become a thing, a devastating thing for those who experience it. For the rest of us, for me, it has become a twist in the gut, a reminder that life is uncertain, that between when we wake up today and when we wake up tomorrow, life can be suddenly and irreversibly altered without any warning.
Let’s think of the positive side of this, because that happens too. I don’t know if it is less likely to happen or if we just don’t make such a deal about it, so it isn’t seared into our consciousness. Like, you could wake up one day and somehow before the next sunrise you meet the love of your life. Yeah, that’s happened to me a few times. Or someone could send you an email and offer you a perfect job, or you could win the lottery! Or someone could offer you a book deal! You could receive a sudden inspiration to write a perfect poem, or paint a perfect painting. Good surprises happen all the time.
Why is fear so much stronger than hope? Well, for me anyway. I am still worried about what happened to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and those who lived in Paradise last year when the whole town was destroyed by a fire, the people of Puerto Rico, and what happened to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami? They are all out there somewhere, surviving. I’d like to hear about it. I’d like to know how.
I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction. I also love endurance sports. You can have the sprints, the team sports, golf and tennis and all that. The only sport I have ever eagerly watched on television was the Tour de France. I love those who run ultramarathons in the desert, or marathons anywhere for that matter, and triathletes. Mountain climbers have my heart. I’ve read a lot of books about people who make these life journeys. Or even those who sit through really hard things, like Julia Butterfly Hill living in the top of a tree through whatever Northern California weather could throw at her.
I love these things because I love to see people surviving and even excelling in conditions that are impossible. It makes me think, oh, you can survive the unsurvivable. I need to know this is possible, to really take it into my heart. I need to see their courage, hear their stories of how they persevered. They give me courage. They give me an anchor.
I’m not sure why we don’t see more of these stories. When the fires ravage entire towns, when cities are drowned, when a whole country is devastated as Japan was a few years ago, the news sweeps in and covers the devastation. Why don’t they cover the survival? Why don’t they cover the reconstruction? Why don’t they tell us how those who lost everything, especially those who had not much of anything to begin with, managed to rebuild with nothing but their bare hands.
If you have a story of survival, would you share it with me? Some of you have told me that my survival of my daughter’s kidnapping has helped you, but your stories of survival also help me.
My heart and my prayers go out to all those who are struggling and suffering, and not only in California. Not only in the United States. My heart goes out to the immigrants and the Kurds, the homeless and the poor, and all the suffering about which I am completely unaware.
And to those who have spent their lives successfully amassing money and other things, my prayers go out to you as well, that your eyes would be opened, that you would see, and that you would help.
I hope you all have a good week. November creeps up on us in just a few days. It will be difficult for me, I know, but let it be good, Lord. Four years ago it brought the birth of my grandson. This year, let it bring life and peace once again, for me and my family, and also for you and your people as well.