Hurricane Harvey and the Milli Fire

I peer out the window, sigh, and pull the covers over my head. It appears we are in deep winter, with fog weighing down day.

But it’s not fog.

It’s August and smoke suffocates the air. My house smells like a campfire.

The Milli Fire was sparked by lightning on August 11th. It has grown to 18,000 plus acres. Heroic firefighters have kept it from destroying lives or homes.

18,000 acres of the Deschutes National Forest and Three Sisters Wilderness area are burning. Last week I sat by the lake at Black Butte Ranch and watched one of my favorite trails, Black Crater, explode with torching trees. It was both beautiful and deeply sad.

My forest is burning.

I walk to my car to retrieve my purse. It is raining ash. I feel both frustrated that my summer days are ruined by smoke and grateful that we are not in danger.

All morning another tragedy is filling my newsfeed. Hurricane Harvey. My mother-in-law had to evacuate Corpus Christi for three days. Luckily, her home is fine and she could return. Late last night Brene’ Brown posted a picture from her front porch in Houston. The water was rising quickly and was almost the height of a stop sign.

Fire. Rain.

Two resources we cannot live without.

And yet in excess, they are causing chaos throughout our nation.

I cannot help but think of the lesson here. Life-sustaining resources in excess cause harm.

We cannot live without food and yet obesity is an epidemic.

Exercise lengthens and strengthens our lives and yet, in excess will break the body and mind.

Money is a tool that provides security and adventure yet if chased to extreme results in futility and depression.

Alcohol is delightful in moderation but addiction ruins lives and relationships.

Sex is a beautiful expression of love or a tainted obsession that turns people into a commodity.

The examples are endless.

My neighbors and I are on Level 1 Pre-evacuation. People in other parts of Oregon (and the west) have been evacuated for days or weeks due to forest fires.

In Houston, Rockport, and other parts of Texas, people are fleeing homes to survive as Hurricane Harvey empties 9 trillion gallons of rain on the region.

Oregon has an excess of fire. Without fire, we wouldn’t have pilot lights, gas stoves, campfires, or the sun.

Texas has an excess of rain. Without rain, bodies would shrivel, lakes would dry, trees would die, and the sea would turn to salt.

Resources imperative to mankind yet nature upends them and the excess destroys.

A provoking question arises, “Where do I use something good in excess and turn it to harm?”

As we consider the extremes of fire and rain causing havoc in our nation, may we be alive and awake to the questions that arise and may our bravery motivate us to stand with an answer.

Let tragedy teach.