Hope and a Fireman

 My hills have changed so much in this last year.  We moved here 4 years ago, and in the midst of the California drought, those hills were brown.  In fact, to call them brown almost seems to unnecessarily flatter them because brown is in fact a color.  My hills were covered with a raw dirt were nothing had grown, year over year.  Dry and abandoned they looked, like a western ghost town without the cool factor of John Wayne walking around the corner.
I ignored my hills.  In truth, I disregarded that they might have any life or beauty left in them.  I scorned my hills.  Occasionally someone new would come to my house from the city side of Los Angeles County and they would remark about the great the open space I had near my home and I would look at them in bewilderment.  Why bother with things that are brown?
Then on July 22nd last year at I hopped in the car to head to the airport to visit my family in Seattle and immediately, Eric and I could see from our home just over the hill, perhaps a ½ mile away was a fire burning out of control.  Was it on our side of the freeway?  With no way to know, we threw extra things in the car… the computer, the kids footprint plates, Tough Mudder headbands (y’all we take that stuff seriously here!), and my jewelry box with my engagement ring…  I wished later I had taken my wedding veil too.  Some things cannot be bought…  If I had more time I would have taken my mother’s paintings.
And then from the safety of my parent’s house, I watched the devastation.  Over the next week the Sand Fire raged.  Over 20,000 people were evacuated, some of them were our friends, our co-workers, and even Zoe’s favorite horse, Chanel.  Over 3,000 fire fighters struggled to gain control of a fire that ripped through our canyons.  A state of emergency was declared.  In the end, over 40,000 acres were charred.  Several lost their homes.  And 1 soul perished.  It was all just so sad.  I wept for what was lost and was also so very grateful for things I didn’t even know to be grateful for.
I have driven Placerita Canyon in the early mornings to work for years.  Before I was bored by the brown, but now, after the Sand Fire, I was at once sorrowful and thankful as I drove through this darkness.  The little tree trunks that remained were charred black and the ground was covered for months with grey ash.  All the color was gone.

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And then came the rain… and the rain… and the rain…  Does anyone from California feel like the rain seems to only come on the weekends?  What’s up with that?  With all this rain, now my hills are green.  Glorious Green!!!!  I mean if the Santa Clara “river” was actually a river all the time then this place would be amazing!  I’ve never seen it so beautiful.  I didn’t know it could be this beautiful.., this full of life.

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But this is only where it was brown, before.
If a certain hill was burned black, then it still looks dead…  there’s no green.
And all this color change in my hills has me wondering…  Do the firemen think about the green when they are fighting for the brown?  I know they want to protect life and property.  But I think, that they also want to save the brown.  I am guessing they are wiser than I have been, and that when they stand on the brown, they don’t see the blah; they see the potential.  And they hope.
At times parts of my life has felt brown… career, friendships, faith.  I have scorned what I had.  I wanted to abandon that part all together.  Or at least ignore it.  It was not useful to me.  It did not produce joy. I could not find fulfillment.  I had lost hope that life and beauty and green would ever come there.
Sometimes something is so toxic that we do need to walk away, if only to protect ourselves from being burned.  I think firemen know that, too.  Perhaps that’s part of their very first training is how to save themselves.  But when they leave, don’t they spray down fire retardant?  Or wet the hills?  They engage in an act of hope.
They know brown hills are not dead hills.  Hope declares they have more to offer.
And I know the LORD… and he hopes in me.  He stands on the brown in me and declares it worth saving, worth his effort.  He sees potential and possibility and promise.  He doesn’t scorn me.  He sees green even when he stands on brown.  His love always hopes in me.   And His love fights for me.
And this Fireman, the LORD, he fights for you…  “The LORD will fight for you.” (Exodus 14:14)
This Fireman also sends the rains. This Fireman, and His love, always hopes… (1 Corinthians 13:7)
Jeanine
PS – Even in the burnt blackness of some hills there is a tiny hint of green in a few spots, little spots were ivy or grass blades seem to grow, in spite of.  So all hope is not lost, even there.  It will just take more time.
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This post is part of a Series, ‘About Love,’ in which I attempted to build on the antidote to envy, which is gratitude.  The series is my honest look at how to practically and genuinely put into my life 1 Corinthians 13.  It is a work in progress, but here are its humble beginnings.
On Waiting and Wiggle Room explores how to be patient in a fast paced world. Love is patient.
Plus One explores how surprisingly challenging kindness can be. Love is kind.
Us is the story of kindness spoken to me. Love is kind.
I want… is the true confession of the things which bring out jealousy in me.  Love does not envy.
Naming the Gift is the beginnings of declaring all the goodness God has given me.  Love does not envy.
Pixels and Puzzle Pieces puts me in my place when I’m tempted to be proud. Love does not boast, it is not proud.
Confessions of a White Girl is a tale of misplaced boasting. Love does not boast, it is not proud.
In the Courthouse explores how quickly we can slide from making judgments to judging. Love does not boast, it is not proud.
Hope and a Fireman considers how it is possible always hope.  Love always hopes.  

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