Two weeks ago, much of our town was cut off from the rest of the world—without landlines, cell phones, or the internet—as well as Highway 101 South for a while. Now our lives are back to normal for the most part, and yet our neighbors to the south of us continue to be impacted by the fires. Recovery will take some time. It continues to seem surreal to me. I have never been in a disaster or near-disaster such as we just experienced. Recovery has always happened somewhere else. We have sent money to UMCOR or sent people to other parts of the country to work on recovery. I helped in Lake County with other members of our church. But it was only for one day.
The learning curve has been steep these past two weeks. I’ve learned about recovery resources and how they need to work together. I’ve seen clothing donations that have ranged from the cutest baby clothes and three-inch patent leather heels to questionable clothing vs. costumes and everything in between. I’ve learned the basics about how recovery efforts work together. And I am continuing to learn. What I really am so glad to see is that there are over 28 faith communities that have volunteered to work as needed to help the victims of this tragedy. For some, the key to helping this make sense is their emotional and spiritual well-being. There are some who will have survivor’s guilt and wonder where God plays into all of this.
I see God everywhere in all of this; FEMA, North Coast Opportunities, Red Cross, the first responders, the volunteers that fed the goats and walked the dogs, and the vets from Berkeley that cared for the sick animals, Small Business Bureau, CalFire, Health and Human Services, our own CalNevada United Methodist Conference, and so many other community resources that have gathered together and helped in a myriad of ways. These are the people who show us God’s hands, feet, heart, and soul. At times like this, I am reminded that while we complain about our church memberships declining, I find that God’s love in action is flourishing in our community.
While recovery will take years in our communities all throughout Northern California, I pray each of us will find a way to be God’s love in action as people continue to recover from this tragedy.
Peace and Love Always—See you in church.