Postcards From Phoenix
Today is the one year anniversary of the fire…I wrote this on 09/16/20
The first thing you have to get past is the illusion that it will never happen to you, because it’s happening to you right now.
It strikes you as some sort of cosmic error that will surely be fixed before there is significant damage to what has always been.
We had to leave quickly…the angry clouds of black smoke looked as if they would soon overtake us and the sound of propane tanks exploding made it sound like war.
We fled north… I needed to get my mom and her cat to shelter…a friends house would be safe.
Except it wasn’t.
A wall of fire on the mountain was descending on that home…we had to go elsewhere.
My aunts house was safe, I left them there.
I would stay with my godson and his family…they were far enough away from the fires.
They evacuated that night.
I stayed at their home…an old man can only run so far for so long.
They are home now, as am I…I’m waiting until we have potable water to bring mom home.
Last night was the first night I slept without the scanner app playing on my phone .
The roads into Phoenix proper are blockaded down the street from my house…those who live (or lived) in that area are allowed to walk in briefly and walk out with whatever possessions they can carry.
At times it looks like those videos you see of refugees fleeing some Third World country… last night I saw a mom walking out hauling a garbage bag containing what remains of her world with her little boy trailing behind pulling a red wagon with a giant scorched teddy bear riding in it.
The streets are lined with cars all over the county as if folks were attending a giant wedding at someones house or a huge yard sale…in reality they are sleeping in their cars, often with their pets.
The initial estimate was that 600 homes burned…now that number is 2400.
They didn’t count the mobile homes at first…a subtle way of saying that folks who live in trailer parks don’t really count.
Jesus wept, then Jesus got busy.
I left my house with my meds and an oil stock…a small cylinder of oil used to anoint people for prayer.
I ran out of oil the first day…I was refueled by a retired Catholic priest.
We are caring for each other, protecting each other, supporting each other.
The Spirit hovers over the chaos restoring life one person, one moment, at a time.
Society has been reordered here…firefighters, law enforcement, and first responders are heroes again.
The Gospel is not a doctrine right now… it’s a spoken prayer, a shift as a volunteer, an unmasked hug, a can of cat or dog food, an ice chest full of water and Red Bull for those standing watch.
It’s people “paying forward” seven deep at the coffee stand and restaurant owners picking up tickets for newly homeless customers.
It’s people having visions of what will be rebuilt even before we know what has been lost.
It’s buckets of sunflowers placed on the on the road that is the only entrance to the town to remind us that the light will shine again.
Truly, it will….it is right behind the smoke.
It always is.
Make your own application…