Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Smoky Skies: Part Two

I heard the winds before I saw and smelled the smoke.  Around here, we have great weather most of the time, but when the Santa Ana winds come, we baton down the hatches and wait for the howling, hot winds to pass. 

A month ago, I would have rushed out into the back yard and tried to prop up my rickety fence, hoping beyond hope that the boards I wedged beneath it would keep it from being pushed over by the punishing winds.  

However, this time around, I looked at my brand new fence, recently built by my friend David.  It’s solid, every board screwed in place, and every post planted firmly in concrete.  

What relief I felt at knowing my fence was strong. 

Then I saw the dark clouds in the distance and I stepped outside.  I could smell the smoke.  A fire was raging in the somewhere in the nearby mountains.  My stomach tightened.  The dry conditions and the winds would surely add up to trouble.  

I looked at my fence and realized that my sense of security in my fence meant nothing to a fire that would simply sneer at my feeble attempt at defense and lick up the wood on its way to bigger game. 

So many of my friends are going through rough times right now.  Job loss, cancer, depression, legal issues, and foreclosure have plagued individuals I love.  Two have recently lost parents; another recently faced the unexpected death of her brother. One friend stands by her phone expecting word of her mother’s death any minute now.  

The list is long and I ache for their suffering. I see them search for emotional lumber with which to fortify their fences.  Even though it may be only an illusion of protection and shelter, I help when I can, for it is a necessary illusion. 

In the distance, there are fires that burn and capricious winds that howl. 

Years ago, our beloved cat Donald got trapped in the dryer and was tumbled around in the high heat for ten minutes.  He was near death when he came out, but ultimately he survived though looking worse for the wear. His ears were ragged and his tail was broken.  Even so, to us he had only gained in stature and beauty. 

To us, he was the most beautiful cat in the entire world.  We loved him more than ever before because of what he had survived.

These experiences that are tumbling my dear friends around right now may indeed make them feel vulnerable and fragile.  I know some of them feel bruised and scrawny, beaten up by the hot dry winds that surround them. 

But what I want them to know is that to the people who love you, these experiences you are going through only serve to make you more beautiful.  We marvel at your strength and grace, even when you feel weak and awkward.  

In the end, these powerful, painful forces shape us all into deeper, more empathic human beings. 

Rough winds and fire come and go in our lives.

We survive.  

We learn to help each other out, to give each other shelter.

Together, we build our fences, alert for more fires in the distance. 

We go on with life.


Lin said...

Lovely, Betty.

I hate the wind--it does so much damage and there ain't nuthin' you can do to stop it. You just gotta ride it out and clean up the mess when it's done.

I pray for your friends who are having a tough time.

Tabor said...

This post is a little like one I did a while back and certainly like the dogwood that I posted about that survived a bad accident. We survive and become more beautiful with our scars.

Cranberry Morning said...

Sometimes things in our lives seem to want to overwhelm us. It is during those times that we trust in God and grow in grace, and when we come out the other side, we are stronger for it. And because those things are tough to see when we're going through them, we need friends who love us to support us in prayer and deeds.

This was a beautiful post. Life is scary, but there is One we can cling to - and friends we can count on to encourage us - as we travel this road.

Baby Sister said...

Beautifully written, as always. It's hard to remember that we can come out of hard times stronger and a much better person, so I think we could all use this reminder.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was beautiful, Betty.
And really glad your cat lived.

Gigi said...

Truer words have never been posted.

Life brings joy and pain. Without the pain we wouldn't feel the joy.

Dee at Pedestrian Palate said...

This reminds me of the stress and uncertainty that came along with hurricane sandy.

I wish you and all the folks in your life that are dealing with fires of their own all the best.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a great post. I hope the fires are taken under control.

Ms. A said...

Betty, this is a beautiful and inspiring post and I love the term "emotional lumber". Stay safe.

Hilary said...

Beautifully written. I wish all of your friends and loved ones peace and strength to get through their trials.

jenny_o said...

You are so right - every trial can teach us something and forge us into better people. I do hope you and yours get some respite from the character-building soon, though.

Connie said...

This is beautifully written, Betty, with heartfelt and moving words. I hope things improve soon for your friends who are suffering.

My Mind's Eye said...

BB as always your post give us things to ponder, be thankful for and celebrate..learning to love and help each other is a beautiful statement
hugs Madi and Mom

Sally Wessely said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thank you. My dearest ones are going through so much right now. This post gives me strength.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. nature can be very cruel - so I too sincerely hope everyone is safe from the fire.

Life can take its toll .. so often things come together - why .. to test us ... but just adds to the misery along that journey ... til the balance returns and we get through it ... as you are doing.

My thoughts to everyone who is suffering .. many are - too many .. with thoughts - Hilary

Joanna Jenkins said...

Gosh-- this reads like you've been inside my brain. I haven't been able to find the words to express my feelings but you did perfectly.

Stay strong my friend.

xo jj

ellen abbott said...

oh Betty. I cannot help but notice the different timber in your words from a year ago.

Pat Tillett said...

Great post Betty! The things that happen to us, shapes us into who we are.

I hate fire season. Twice in less than a year we've watched wildfires from our back yard that were too darn close. Luckily there is a fairly large lake at the bottom of our hill. The helicopters use it load up for water drops.