Fire brings a needed perspective

September 29, 2010

We were about a mile from the house and we could see the smoke. Jesse was in the lead and he said, “Dad, I flew down our road, afraid that our house was on fire.” Thankfully, it wasn’t. The fire was in the woods behind our house, and Cindy and I decided to walk back there after lunch to see what was going on.
We had no sooner gotten off of our driveway when we heard the sirens. One after another they flew up our gravel road to the cul-de-sac where we stood, volunteer firemen, a water truck from the nearby Faucette station, another truck from Pleasant Grove, and more. The first to arrive on the scene was a man in a pickup who asked me if there was a way to get to the fire through the woods. He made it about 100 yards before he left his truck and walked the rest of the quarter mile to the scene of the fire. That’s when we heard the report.
It seems that some brush piles accumulated by loggers had been burned the day before and the embers had rekindled Sunday morning. The fire was threatening to spread into the trees nearby. The firemen were trying to get their trucks to the scene, but were blocked by piles of debris and felled trees left by the loggers. So, they stationed themselves around the perimeter of the fire, keeping it from spreading as best they could into the trees, as they waited for the foresters to arrive with their bulldozers. I walked through the woods with a few neighbors and watched the men at work. It was a hot day and I was sweating through my T-shirt just standing there watching. I could only imagine their discomfort in full gear as they were working. My hat is off to the volunteer firemen who are willing to give up their Sunday afternoons to save property and lives.
As Cindy and I talked about the fire, seated comfortably on our front porch swing, we entertained these questions. What if the wind suddenly carried the blaze into the trees and, as we have heard about raging forest fires in other parts of the country, the pine forest buffer that protects our home was eaten up as the fire approached? What would we do? Well, certainly, we would leave our property and pray for the firemen to protect all of the homes in our little community. What would we take from the house if we only had a few minutes to decide?
When Cindy asked me the question, I said, “I would take the children.” She laughed, but pressed in: “Seriously, what would we take?” That led to a discussion about what was important, what we felt like we could not replace, and what was simply taking up space in our home and in our lives. I am grateful that those answers remained in the “what if” category, as the fire was successfully quenched by our hard-working volunteer firemen. The truth is, however, the question is there for all of us. What really matters? What can be replaced and what is simply irreplaceable? And really, if the fire gets in before we can get out, what will we carry from this life? Job tells us the truth: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” A fire brings perspective.