Friday, June 24, 2022



Life throws the impossible at each of us in unique ways and nothing can prepare us. We may not be alone in the process (or we may be) but the nature of the struggle is ours alone to bear in the way it plays out on our personhood. As I have faced the impossible in my life over the past several years, particularly in the utterly daunting challenges with Lochlan, I have found solace, comfort and peace in this place. The hill is a steep climb up, and the sheer willpower it takes to fight the exhaustion in the climb does something chemically to take me from absolute exasperation (from life) to renewed strength and resilience. At the top, I find this solitary tree in all it's imperfection, a bastion of hope, a reminder that the world is so much bigger and more beautiful than my present (impossible) circumstances and/or perspective. It has welcomed the seasons year after year and not without blemish. Yet, it stand resolute and strong. I have screamed at God, cried, laughed tears of joy, and taken every burden in my heart and cast it into the hands of the Almighty at the foot of this tree. I even have a jar of thoughts buried at the base of the tree. I have begged and pleaded for miracles, I have wrestled against the powers that be. I have fought my greatest internal battles in this place. It is a place that reflects the beauty of the great painter replacing my sorrow with joy.

In the first fire, two months ago, I thought it would be taken. When it wasn't my heart was filled with profound joy and disbelief. Then, the second fire started two months later. 

I could not see the area for the smoke for many days. Looking at the infrared images of the fire every morning revealed that the fire was creeping closer every hour, each day. 

This is a text I sent my sister, Krista:

"My tree is still alive. Please have everyone pray today. It is completely surrounded by active fire." 

 I found my boys in the living room, holding hands praying together with tears streaming down their cheeks and they were praying for my tree, my hill to be spared. Krista, then, sent this message to so many people: 

"Eryn's tree still stands, unharmed. But it is literally surrounded by fire. 
The blue circle I drew is an estimate of where it's at. Please pray 
that God's umbrella remains in place and it is spared." 

These are two pictures that Krista painted for me during these days. 



 The following morning, I woke up and infrared showed that it was completely surrounded by the fire. The smoke had lessened and the highway had opened up, so I drove up to say goodbye to it, from a distance. There it stood, unmoved and still unmarred.  I could see flames in every direction around it. I sent Krista this text: 

"My hill has survived but the fire is right next to it and the winds are heavy. I said goodbye to it this morning, in my heart. I could see it from the highway standing tall and resolute with flames on the trees across from it. Everything around it for as far as you can see has burned. Sobering. If it survives it will be a miracle and the sweetest joy. 

I feel really numb. Unsurprisingly. I think it's grief."

But, it DID survive. Not just my tree, but my entire hill. Like an umbrella was placed over it. 

This picture was taken yesterday, as storm clouds rolled in. You can see my tree on top of the unburned hill. It will be green again soon! When the forest is re-opened I will canter to the top as swiftly as my legs will carry me and I will dance! 

"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:17-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Monday, June 20, 2022

Fire, again

The beautiful places are so altered. The Tunnel Fire took so much. We thought it was our primary "natural" disaster for this year. We set ourselves into the process of recovery and focused on rebuilding a community that refused to be defeated. We made preparations for flood waters coming out of the burn scar. 

Then, the carelessness and abject irresponsibility of one person started a spark that lit the forests on fire again, and on day 1 of three solid days of heavy winds. The Pipeline Fire didn't destroy the amount of houses and personal property as the Tunnel Fire destroyed, but it ripped across the entire East Side of the San Francisco Peaks, carving out beloved Weatherford canyon, crawling up Doyle Peak and Fremont Peak, and making a run for our Inner Basin. The firefighters valiantly fought along the Inner Basin line, and though it burned out one of the ridges and into the Basin, they were ultimately successful in saving it. We still have Lockett Meadow. 

It jumped Highway 89, again, in multiple places and gobbled up the hills I have crawled all over and know as well as my own reflection in the mirror. By some absolute miracle my hill and my beloved tree have survived, like an umbrella was placed over them. More on that later... it is still not fully out of danger. 

Because the fire reopened the burn scar from the 2010 Schultz Fire, and gobbled up so much more beyond that, our risk for flooding has increased exponentially. We have 5 days of rain predicted this week and I find myself approaching the prediction with trepidation. The boys and I have loaded and placed 12 flatbed trailers full of sandbags in the past three days. We used some on our houses, but they still had cement walls (Jersey barriers) in place from the Schultz Fire flood prep, so we didn't need as many as we would have otherwise. Many neighbors needed assistance, though, and I was so proud of my little men who put their hearts fully into the task at hand and worked harder than most adults I know. They showed their love through actions and displayed incredible strength. While we were loading the trailer I saw them looking around and if there were others who were elderly, or alone, they trotted over and immediately pitched in to assist in loading with that person. We still have a few neighbors to assist, but our community is further along in preparation than we were. None of us really know just how bad it will be or whether or not our preparations will be sufficient. 

The boys came home from sandbagging and made 100 chocolate chip cookies (Buni's recipe!) for the firefighters and delivered them to the firefighter camp just as all the guys were coming in from a long day. There were a lot of smiles.

In the horror of the blackened scene, there are some strange positives. The green is popping up on the ground floor of the Tunnel Fire scar. The Schultz Fire had replaced the thick green forest of the mountainside with blackened snags - the Pipeline Fire orchestrated a masterful cleanup of the 12 year old residue from the previous fire and in some ways our mountain resembles a canvas awaiting the painter's mastery. 

These pics were from yesterday

The raw beauty cannot be diminished... 

I still cannot believe that this place has survived two fires in two months. #gratefulbeyondmeasure #myhearthouse

So... onward. I do not anticipate tomorrow, but I will take the next step toward it because I must. We all must. I am glad that I do not know what the future holds; I am not strong enough for that. I believe His strength prevails when we walk in the dark places to what's ahead, even if it's to still darker places. There is a certain breaking in us that shapes us and molds us and makes us stronger. Our world is constantly changing. Seasons come and go and in each season we are also changed. We must look forward and keep walking or we will miss the splendor of Autumn.