Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Yesterday, a huge fire broke out in the mountains a few miles west of the city. When I looked out my window, I noticed haze over the Flatirons, but I had no idea what it was. When I stepped out on my balcony, I seemed to smell a bit of smoke, but somehow supposed it was someone barbecuing outside--it was, after all, Labor Day.
When I left to do some errands, everything felt "strange." I felt "off," a bit "our of body," as if I myself had been at the computer too long or was having an unusual day. Soon I found out that a fire had broken out in Four Mile Canyon, some five or so miles to the west.
It quickly became a great fire--one that ultimately consumed over 7,000 acres of the mountain land I have long thought of as paradise. 3,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes. The sky north of the city literally turned red, as billowing clouds of smoke blew towards us.
This morning, the fire was still burning. When I went out to do some errands (walking) everything seemed eerily still. No one was in the street or on the sidewalk. It was in fact so silent that I wondered if I had suddenly lost my hearing. 'This must be what it is like to be deaf or to inhabit a deserted city," I thought to myself.
Fortunately, the fire did not threaten the city itself, and my part of town didn't receive too much smoke or ashes. But the smoke itself was visible all the way to Wyoming, and many thousands of the evacuees are still waiting to learn the fate of their homes. Nine of the volunteer firefighters did lose their houses, but at least there were no reports of loss of life or injury (to humans).
Oddly, two weeks ago I had a dream about a fire that threatened my home--the house where I had grown up. It never actually reached the house itself, but was simply a threat--just as this fire was a potential threat to me and where I live, though it never reached close enough to do any damage. As far as I know, I have never had another dream about a fire, and at the time I wondered what it meant.
Always, we are reminded that our spiritual life does not occur in a vacuum, that there is an actual context for all of our inner experiences, for we ourselves are intimately connected to the outer world, where circumstances can change drastically in a moment. Inner and outer--both are parts of the journey. Both need to be accounted for in a full description of our life adventure.