Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ashes and the Incarnation

There are fires in Northern California again.  They are threatening the East side of Paradise this time.  Last time we sheltered at my in-laws house on the East side while we were under evacuation.  This time they are under evacuation and staying at a motel while we dog-sit and house some of their sentimental valuables.  

The air is horrible. It's consistently rated as hazardous and visibility in the mornings is probably less than a mile.  It's hard not to cough breathing the morning air.  By afternoon it starts to thin out a bit and it starts all over again at night.   Ash is falling from the sky like a light snow.  Not so heavy as to cut down on visibility, but enough to always be able to see something falling.  It's mostly white with occasional black pieces.  

The worst part is the stress.  While I'm much better off both physically and psychologically this time it still takes it out of you.  My home is relatively safe this time, so I'm still going to work every day.  That being said I'm always mindful that things may change at a moment's notice and I'll have to run home (half an hour if I'm at work), grab some clothes, our cats, and the pictures and mementos already in boxes, and get out of town.  It makes it hard to relax or really even focus on anything.

One of the things I've noticed is that hearing about something like this on the news does it no justice.   When I've heard about wildfires before I've felt compassion for those that were experiencing the crisis, but had no idea what the actual experience was like.  I had a fleeting thought about something unpleasant, maybe said a little prayer, or on a really good day make a donation, and then went on with my day.  I have to wonder, is that the way I should react to the pain and suffering of others?  I imagine that a reaction like that is normal, but does that mean it's the right reaction?  These aren't just rhetorical questions.  I really don't know the answer.


Is this part of what the Incarnation is about?  Was God not willing to just have fleeting thoughts about human suffering that inspired periodic event of compassionate action?  Did He find it necessary to enter our world and experience our suffering first hand to truly do right by us?   I'm reticent to say that God must do anything, but I wonder.

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