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Still sending prayers to Fort McMurray today. The damage wrought by the fire there is unbelievable. But I do believe in the strength of communities and the hearts of the people who live in them, and who will rebuild them. Just as we have done in our mountain towns of Colorado. I have watched the changes in lives and landscape wrought by Mother Nature at her most tempestuous. I have wept at the devastation. And wept again watching strangers and neighbors come together to heal homes and spirits. From what I have read, the people of Fort McMurray have the same resilience. Tonight, I send them not only prayers, but a shot of calm, blue beauty to ease their heat and hurt.

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Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “It troubled her much to see what a great flame a little wildfire was likely to kindle.” — Thomas Hardy

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely Colorado day
The bird on the stoplight with a Christmas icicle twinkling in its beak
Kelsea being such a blessing on this earth
MKL’s love and encouragement
My little gallery

 

When I was little, my father would say my prayers with me every night. He would start, with “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, that familiar prayer that was a staple of so many childhoods. But he altered the words “If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.” I suspect he found it to be an unthinkable thought, and didn’t want us to think it as we went to sleep. Our version was “All through the night, may angels spread protecting wings above my bed.” I still find that prayer a comfort, along with the spontaneous ones I now have as an adult.

Our world needs many prayers these days. Tonight, I am sending special prayers to the people in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. 53,000 people have been evacuated from that city due to an explosive wildfire. The fire has moved into the city. Whole neighborhoods have been destroyed. There is no more gas in the city. People are running out of gas and getting stuck in traffic, or by the side of the road, as flames move ever closer.

May I say, as I listen to radio coverage from Edmonton, and phone interviews with high school seniors, fire chiefs, and other citizens, that everyone sounds so calm and polite and well-spoken and pragmatic that it just makes me want to hug them all. Or go be a Canadian.

We in Colorado, particularly those  in the Colorado Springs area, went through a similar disaster a few years ago. I remember watching live coverage on the news, and truly, it looked like my vision of  hell. The earth and the people still hold the scars. Here, we pray for enough snowpack to help prevent wildfires, but not so much as to cause floods such as the devastating one we experienced in 2013.

So tonight, and tomorrow, and likely the next day, please join me in saying a prayer for the people of Fort McMurray and the brave firefighters and first responders who risk their lives to help keep others’ lives intact. And if you’re otherwise inclined, a little rain dance wouldn’t hurt.

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Iglesia de San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “The way sadness works is one of the strange riddles of the world. If you are stricken with a great sadness, you may feel as if you have been set aflame, not only because of the enormous pain, but also because your sadness may spread over your life, like smoke from an enormous fire. You might find it difficult to see anything but your own sadness, the way smoke can cover a landscape so that all anyone can see is black. You may find that if someone pours water all over you, you are damp and distracted, but not cured of your sadness, the way a fire department can douse a fire but never recover what has been burnt down.”   — Lemony Snicket

Daily gratitudes:
MKL’s eyes
A beautiful day
How green can fill my eyes
One working lawnmower in the family
The toddler playing in the dancing waters with her golden retriever trying to bite the streams

 

With any disaster, be it natural or manmade, empaths (like me) have a broad-spectrum struggle.

We take the “can’t look away from the train wreck” mentality to the extreme, studying and following the most minute details so closely that we embed the event within our souls.

I have often questioned why I do this. Who benefits? I do not outwardly share the pain I experience as a result of this empathy, so I am not doing it for any self-gratification or to attract attention from people around me. That’s not how empaths function anyway. I wouldn’t dream of comparing my empathic experience to those who are directly impacted by something like the Waldo Canyon fire – the people who have lost their homes, the firefighters who are wearily yet steadily fighting what must at times feel like an incredibly discouraging and losing battle.

Given the rampage of fires within close proximity to me and places that I love here in Colorado, you might imagine that I’ve spent some time thinking about this. I suppose I’ve come up with some vague and unconfirmed answers.

I draw energy into myself. I transform it and expend it back into the universe. It’s like breathing. Like pulling something from the air, and turning it into something more peaceful and sending it back out. The energy I pull in comes from the air itself, from the fire, from the heat, from the silent, or not so silent cries of people who are suffering, from their own energetic emissions of pain, fear, and loss. I breathe in the negative energy, I breathe out the positive energy. I absorb the negative energy and transform it into life force energy. That sounds a little uber-woo-woo, even for me. I guess it’s hard to find the words. I try to soothe others by taking on their energetic pain.

This unconscious exercise – and it is unconscious, second nature for me – is wearisome, yet rewarding.  It’s like giving a gift with no idea who the recipient will be, or how it will benefit them, just knowing that it will.  But my body and spirit exhaust themselves, even as they are enriched by the process.

I am like a sponge, absorbing the energetic pain of people I will never see, pain that I just pick up from the winds, pain that I intuit from pictures.

And at the same time, I throw psychic energy at the flames, in an attempt to stop them. This enters into the realm of magical thinking, which any therapist worth his or her salt will tell you is not beneficial in any way to anyone. But a belief in magic and the powers of the unseen world are part and parcel of being an empath. While I do not think that my thoughts alone can stop (or start) a fire, I do wonder if the collective healing energy sent directly  into the universe by people can impact something like a fire. I suppose Christians would translate that into the power of prayer. Although from the Buddhist perspective, I should know that things like this are beyond my control, and I should just be with it, doing what I can to help.

Fire, especially a wildfire, has its own unique energy, its own life force, highly connected with nature.  In many cases – such as the Flagstaff Fire in Boulder and (hopefully) the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs – such fires are sparked by nature and fed by nature, and it is a challenge for man to contain them.  Fires draw their strength from trees and brush, from wind and the heat of the air, all this natural energy that feeds it and that it in turn emits – a balance within itself.  I believe that empaths, who are sensitive to both the energy of nature and the energy of man, pick up very strongly on that entity that is a fire. We absorb some of its energy as well, and are disturbed by the very violence of its nature. Combine that with how we pick up on the energy of people who are suffering and you have a thick energetic pudding that we find ourselves swimming in.

It’s tough to keep your head above the surface when you’re swimming in pudding.

It feels like all of Colorado is burning. I know this is a factual exaggeration, but if you are here, it seems to be true. The High Park fire, near Fort Collins, has burned over 82,000 acres. The smoke from that fire, north of here, is sometimes strong in my town, and the skies are often hazy.

Yesterday, the Waldo Canyon fire started about 30 miles from where Kelsea and I were staying in Cripple Creek. The smoke was acrid where we were, burning our noses, eyes, and throats, making us cough, making it hard to breathe. Attendance at Donkey Derby Days had dropped significantly, with people trying to figure out how to get out. The highway into Colorado Springs was closed, and the alternate routes were unfamiliar and took unseasoned travellers far out of the way of wherever their final destination may have been.

We left after the Dog Show, and decided to see how far into Woodland Park we could get, making it to the WalMart before we were turned back.

Here’s the view of the fire from the Woodland Park WalMart parking lot:

Waldo Canyon Fire from Woodland Park WalMart

We turned around and headed down Hwy. 67 towards Deckers, and had gotten just around Turtle Creek when Kelsea said, “Is that smoke?” I didn’t see it, so I thought it might be just blown over from the Waldo Canyon fire, but sure enough about a mile onward, we saw had a clear view to the south, and saw this:

Start of the Turtle Creek fire

Kelsea called 911 and was told there were already crews on the way.  Our question is, what crews?  Fully half of the NATION’s wildfire fighting resources are already deployed to existing Colorado fires, and there are huge fires burning in New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona as well. By the time we had driven another mile, and pulled over on a high spot, we saw this:

Turtle Creek Fire

Trees were starting to pop like firecrackers. And the wind was picking up and moving our direction. We were about a mile from the fire. I decided we should head on, because that just seems like a good idea when a fire is heading your way. But we stood there watching for a bit, near tears. It hurts to watch such beauty burn.

By the time we got to Pine, we heard that they had closed the road behind us. We had passed quite a few cars clearly packed with as much of their possessions as they could carry, and the atmosphere at Zola’s, where we stopped for burgers, was markedly subdued.  In fact, we were unusually quiet and pensive, both wishing there was something we could do. We are both warm bodies, and would both be willing to go toe to toe with a wildfire.

I’m home now, and the wind is high, the skies are churning and greenish, thunder is rumbling, and I just unwisely finished watching “Twister”. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles are racing past my house. To quote Puglet, no idea.

But please say a prayer for all of those who are being impacted by the combined wrath of Mother Nature and carelessness of man – who knows which is the cause of such destruction.

This map is of June 23, and is missing the Turtle Creek Fire.

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