Driving to the office early this morning I heard a report about the terrible wild fires running rampant through parts of Colorado. I was reflecting on the extremes of the weather we are experiencing around the country and being reminded of some comments one person much wiser than I am made about global warming. When trying to explain this phenomenon she feared was coming our way, she remarked: “What people don’t quite understand is that global warming is not just about our temperatures getting warmer. It is about the wild and erratic fluctuations of weather we will experience as our normal climate patterns are disturbed.” I have thought of her words often over the last years while we have had tremendous snowfalls followed by little the next year. Now as the fires burn in one place and there are record rainfalls in other places that have never flooded before, her wisdom begins to make sense.
I was jarred out of my ruminations on the weather by a Colorado firefighter’s words.
” We have told everyone to grab their peas.” I did a double take toward the radio only to realize he did not mean the vegetable but the letter. Grab your ‘p’s. People, pets, prescriptions, papers, pictures. Oh, my. Can our lives really be trimmed to such a short list of what is important?
And then I thought about it. While I have never been in such a dire situation where I needed to think about evacuating my home, what are the most important parts of my life that I would grab and protect? Certainly the people are the top priority. Family, friends, neighbors, my wider community are all the true treasures of my life. These beloved human ones are what I would risk limb and leg for, hands down.
Over the years I have been blessed to share the road with many of the four-legged variety. These felines and canines have been both companion and challenge.These animals have taught me about patience and playfulness, about living in the present moment and the fine art of lazing in the wash of the sun’s rays. Our dependence upon one another has been pure gift and they are a ‘p’ I would grab, for their sake and for mine.
At this point in my life I am blessed to not have to think about prescriptions. But I do think of the things that bring healing and wholeness to my life. These ‘prescriptions’ are mostly of the literary kind, volumes filled with words that bring balance and hope, beauty and joy. In the end, these are not things I would grab in an emergency but I would be left with a grief to bear without them. I know this.
The same could be said of papers. We have important papers, birth certificates, passports, insurance papers, etc. stored in a box that would hopefully survive a fire. Or so the warranty of the box purposes. I trust it is true and that that knowledge would give me ample time to grab the other paper-like things of importance, our pictures. Pictures of infant sons and wedding photos of our much younger, thinner selves. Pictures of the first day of school, sports teams and trophies, graduations, proms, birthdays, family vacations. All these chronicle the life we have created, the lives we have lived. They make up another ‘p’….precious.
And for yet another ‘p’, I would now add prayer. My prayers are being sent out to those who at this very minute are grabbing their ‘p’s and heading out into a smokey wilderness. Where their journey takes them is still a mystery. What will be left when they return is also unknown. May each be surrounded by people whom they love and in the presence of their companion creatures. May they hold just enough of the paper that helps them maneuver whatever is on the other side of this time and a dose of what may heal. And may they hold firmly in their hands a memory of a time when things were safer and simpler.
May God go gently at their side.