Reflections from a Fire

I am always so shocked at how quickly time can get away from you if you don’t have a plan for it!

Thats what’s happened to me. July has gotten away from me! A little over a week ago my husband and I saw a plume of smoke reaching for the sky in our little mountaintop town. We live in Arizona – wildfire season is upon us and it’s always a threat. We were quickly able to see that this wasn’t just the smoke from a controlled burn, it was the real deal.

The fire nestled itself within the mountain, on top of an area that is very difficult to access, where there had never been forest management and there was a great amount of fuel to be found. Areas were evacuated, other areas were on pre-evacuation, and everyone in town was on alert. No one was sure whether our rainy season would start, and if the lightening coming from those powerful monsoon storms would start more fires.

As I type, the fire is at 1,961 acres and 82% contained. We’ve gone from such heavy smoke we couldn’t see the mountains and a general sense of ominous foreshadowing to a confidence that we are in safe hands with the fire crew that has been battling this monster. There has been no loss of life or structure!

At our house, we decided due to the air quality and the agitation of our animals that we would evacuate the livestock to a safer place. This ended up being quite a task! I’ve had an emergency plan in place since there was a fire about 30 miles away five years ago… but what I had not expected was the length of time it takes to move an animal that is freaked out! Lesson for all of you – if you’re ever in a fiery situation – your animals may act like they’re possessed by Satan himself!

Once the animals were moved we took the time to rearrange their area. So the last week held many hours of cleaning, moving, grunting, and sniffling as we worked outside alongside packed cars with full tanks of gas ready to go in at a moment’s notice and watched the aerial battle of the fire fighting helicopters and planes against the flames.

Besides my advice to never trust your animals to act normally in an emergency, here’s the other takeaway: we have a lot of stuff that isn’t really important in our life.

As I walked through the house and tried to identify what deserved a space in the vehicle if we had to get out quickly, I realized that most of the things in our life are just… things.

My computer? The hard drive that holds the files from the past decades of family photos and professional effort? Those actually do matter to me! They get space.

The 4H project record books we’ve had out for fair? They went in the car because the idea of trying to recreate those by the end of the month makes me want to turn into a puddle of goo!

The piles of books I’ve been going through to create a curriculum course of study for the kids? Those were worth saving to me!

But the clothes? The shoes? The bedspread I looked for for months before deciding it was just right? Those things don’t really matter.

It was sobering to realize how much time and effort I have previously put in to items that I wouldn’t sacrifice for now because they are easily replaced or not truly valuable.

If anything has come from this fire experience it’s a renewed desire to clear out the clutter in my life, both the physical and emotional clutter. To focus on what matters and do my very best to not be distracted by the constant demands of the world.

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand yelling, “This is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”

Iain Thomas

Have you ever had to make life changing sorting decisions? What was most important to you?

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