Thousands of acres in California are burning. Trees and plants, homes and fields. It tends to happen at this time in the year when the land is dry and rains have not come for months on end. But this year stands as one of the worst for California fires in recent history.
This morning I found that friends of mine are evacuating from a small town less than an hour’s drive from where I live. With more than two million acres laid waste to fire, the devastation is vast.
My child commented yesterday about how many years it will take for these places to recover, to begin to grow again.
Yet also this morning I knelt before the ground and planted seeds. I took a small succulent that has been soaking in water in my kitchen, slowly growing roots, over the past week, and set it into a clay pot. It had broken from the larger plant and would have shriveled and died if not placed in water.
Now it stands on my windowsill. Beyond the window, the sky looms gray. It has looked that way for weeks. We need rain to quench the fires of California, rain to clear the sky.
Who knows how long until that rain finally arrives? Who knows how long firefighters in California by the thousands will work day and night to protect land and fields and homes and people?
A part of me grieves for the loss. Pictures the wildlife seeking safety and unable to find it. Sees children and parents leaving places they’ve called home for years, not knowing if they will see those places again.
Part of me feels distant from the loss and the grief because I am not personally affected by it. For this, I feel guilty. For it does affect all of us, the strings unseen that pull and stretch and break, touching us all in some way whether we recognize it or not.
I say a prayer for my friends and for strangers who have lost their homes to the fires, and for those who continue to battle the flames. And I feel ashamed that the prayer is not long enough, not deep enough, does not have the heart it might if I and my household were in the direct path of the flames.
Yet I planted the seeds, and I hope they will grow. I potted the succulent and I smile at its small beauty.
I recall that some seeds of some trees need fire before they will finally begin to grow. It takes the heat of flames for them to break open, awaken, grow root and take root.
But after the fires fade and the rains finally, mercifully, fall … under some scorched ground, seed will meet rain and the light of the sun.
It will spread and root and take in water and life.
It will unfurl and grow toward the sky.