Our house is fine. Completely fine. Our herb garden and potted flowers survived for crying out loud. 4500 feet to the west at the foot of Ute Valley Park, it’s a very different story. Go three more blocks west, and fire licked the foundations. The amazing stat of stats (here I go) is that 81% of all structures in the Mountain Shadows area were saved. Three hundred forty six homes are gone, but close to 1500 still stand. When you look at this image (taken from the no-longer secret fire lookout in Pinecliff, the vacant lot on Cliff Point) what is most startling is the number of rooftops you still see. EVERYTHING should have burned. Everything. Three percent humidity in the fuels, the hottest day ever in Colorado Springs history, a fire that had just leapt two ridges in a matter of minutes being pushed by a 65 mph wind. EVERYTHING should have burned.
My wife, Amy sent out an email to her address book this morning. I asked if I could republish it, as it is from her nurturing feminine perspective, far more thoughtful and emotionally impacted then my usual analytical writing. With that, Amy leaves the data behind, and provides her own, beautiful perspective.
This is lengthy and a form of closure for me, so read when you have a moment…
I am so grateful. I am grateful for my husband who, after seeing the fire spill over the ridge into our community, calmly mobilized our family in kindness and patience so that we would be packed and on the road before chaos ensued. I am grateful for our dear friend’s call – “stay calm, get out”. I am grateful for our sons, who packed our cars under a blackened sky and ash storm without complaint. I am grateful for your kind offerings of love, prayers, and concern over the last week in the form of texts and calls. Thank you for offering, and for some, letting us take you up on your offerings to tuck in at your home. Thank you to Oma and Funpa and their calm, generous presence toward our family Tuesday through Thursday. They fed us, washed our smokey clothes, arranged for art therapy sessions and sleep, read to the kids – all on Funpa’s birthday, took us tubing and crawdad hunting on the South Platte River, gave Ben and I space to walk and talk, and let us use their storage space for Ben’s boxes and boxes of work files. Thank you to Kevin, Hailey, and Varenna for much of the same. For taking us to the swimming pool, for arranging and hosting a birthday party for Andrew with Aunt Marni (who’s empathy and deep heartedness astound me), and for providing lots of playful distraction with the kids, including water balloons and time at the park – all on their anniversary. To Grammy for having us, and bringing joy and laughter to our tired and weary hearts. We are all a holy mess – why not giggle about it? Papa offered to move into Grammy’s crawl space so that we could take over his home. Ha! We are so rich for the community that surrounded us. You are beautiful people.
Last night my men and I stood on the street corner, cheering and waving our flag and thanking with tear filled eyes the brave and heroic firefighters that literally saved thousands of homes in our city including our own, where the day shift exchanged duty with the night shift. 2,000 firefighters from around the country have worked 14 hour shifts, sometimes longer, to drive “home” to their tent on a middle school lawn where they rest. I know that my appreciation is rooted in watching my father Gary sacrifice on behalf of strangers all of his years as a fire fighter and haz-mat team member. Spot fires trickled the west side of Ute Valley Park which is right down our street, and they put them out before any real damage was done. Burnt embers, roof shingles, and pages of books littered our front yard, yet our dead grass never caught fire. I am so grateful. They saved countless friends and clients homes…. and I ache and grieve with several of our friends who lost their homes. Please pray for the four families we know, some quite well, whose homes were burned to their foundations. Ben is grateful to be able to help some of them find new homes, and bring restoration emotionally and spiritually in all that was lost. He is the face of God to so many right now – he is glorious.
- Coming home Saturday night brought a flood of gratitude into my heart – I certainly have a new perspective that I can only pray will last. I had begun a gratitude journal on June 24, with the goal of listing 1,000 gratitudes. I received the idea from a profound book by Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts. In Luke chapter 17, it is recorded that Jesus healed 10 lepers. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” “Well”, in Greek, is “sozo”, which translates to “whole”, “to save”, “salvation”. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might life, life to the full; He came to give us sozo . And when did the leper receive sozo – the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks. “Thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.” I don’t want to speak the language of the fall – discontentment and self-condemnation, the critical eye and the never satisfied… I want to speak with “full of grace” vocabulary, as I thirst and am desperate for grace myself. Writing down all of the Gifts that He bestows is sort of like…unwrapping love. And so my list grows: 5. baby bunnies 8. green beauty 9. baby fawn born in our back yard 10. yoga on our back deck 13. Andrew cuddling me at “9” 16. Auntie’s tears 17. Unca’s embrace 18. Twin’s giggles celebrating our home coming 19. Family 20. The General (my Ben)…directing our leaving and returning. Kingdom come. 24. Still blooming flowers 25. Live’s protected…
and I add each of you to my list. Thank you for being the faces and voices of life and hope and love. As I sat on the patio of Amanda’s Fonda celebrating my close friend Rachel’s birthday last night, streamside and with a strong margarita, I realized as I gazed into her eyes – brown pools of grace in which I could soak, that she is “home” to me. Each of you is “home”. Being with each of you, whether in person or spirit, was its own “homecoming”, a returning to that which we long for, that which we were made for, for that which is irreplaceable.
1,000 thank yous.