The sky is white today.
How often does one write that on July 6th in Northwest Washington?
Let me answer for you.
Today's the first day in my memory, or in anyone's memory, I think.
White sky isn't the same as cloudy sky, you understand. I didn't know that before today. Cloudy skies have texture. There are ridges and different hues or gray and white and even pockets of blue now and then. But here today, the sky is uniformly white.
Last night we drove home from our place in the North Cascades to bright blue skies. But within a few hours, the skies began to haze over toward the bay, with the accompanying smell of smoke. Before too long, we couldn't see Bellingham Bay at all, and the sun looked like this:
Our eyes stung so badly, SK had to close her window against it, though the house was hot and we have no air conditioning.
You see, there are fires burning in Canada and, like Sarah Palin once famously said about Russia, we can see it from here. It wouldn't matter if we could or not, however, the smoke plume knows no man-made borders. The entire Puget Sound area is covered with a haze today.
This is an odd phenomenon for us. It's odd for British Columbia to have such fires. We live in a region rife with rain in May and June. Our summer doesn't usually begin until this week--after the 4th of July. This year, we've had temperatures from 85F (29C) to 91F (32.7C) and only .23 inches of rain fell during June. That's NOT what we signed up for around here, folks. It's NOT what keeps our forests lush, our mountain lakes full and our grass green. But here we are. And our grass is...brown. BROWN dry and dead.
And that's all exactly the recipe for forest fires, smoke plumes and disasters. I suppose there are folks around here who might have found it easy enough to not understand all the noise about California and their water shortage, all the 'hype' about climate change...until this summer hit--back in May, when our temperatures began soaring and our governor had to declare a state of emergency on first a couple and then a few more counties right here in our own bountiful, water-filled northwest. But our mountains have no snow on them these days, we are sweltering in the heat, and our neighbor to the north have fires to contend with.
I'm aware of the inconstancy of this world today. Creation is not a fixed thing. We have changed it, as much as we are changed by it. And, though we might not live to see it, there is a shelf life to this planet. We can extend that or shorten it by how we live with and care for what we've been given. BY God. Given by God. That's what I should have said.
But the whole of it is that only God is constant. He is above the fire and the sun and the lack of rain and the excess of it. He is above weather in any guise. He participates with us as we participate with Him. I believe that. He wants us to be HIS caretakers of this glorious earth He gave us.
And I know this: Fire is not the enemy. Fire in forests is a replenishing act. It helps a forest be restored. Sometimes that's exactly what a forest needs. I don't say this glibly, but carefully. I say it, knowing what fire has been in my own life. I know how fire has restored and replenished and actually recreated me into His image. It's taken away the chaff and left what was of Him.
That's what I think about as I smell the smoke today, pray for the fire-fighters who battle the flames, and those who might be in physical danger from them. If fire comes to YOUR life, what will you do with it? Will it make you something true or burn you up?