Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Santa Ana Winds

Back in October of 1993, I was working in California and experienced my first Santa Ana winds. They are fierce and if there is a smoldering or worse yet, a burning fire in the canyons of southern California the winds bring destruction, tragedy and death.

I wrote a commentary then that seems appropriate to me this morning as I read about the fires and Santa Ana winds of sixty to seventy miles per hour now threatening areas around Los Angeles.

"Today began for me listening to the wind and saying its name.
Santa Ana!

It has the sound of a saint, but a sinister feel. A harbinger, an ill-wind known well to Californians. Santa Ana!

There is nothing we can do to change it, to stop it. It flows quickly from the mountain tops and reminds us of our vulnerability. The tears of loss and smiles of safety on the same face, parallel our conflict and appreciation of nature. The stories of neighbor helping neighbor, confirm our desire for community.

This is a story not only of chewing flames and charred places, it is a story of hopes and wishes, shattered dreams and shock. It times of such destruction, values change rapidly. The acquired stuff of daily living no match for the loss of a treasured family picture or the ache of not knowing if a pet survived.

There is never a quick end to tragedy. No easy answers to the wailed questions of why and no relief when cries have no tears. It is not possible to hold each hand of so many so hurting today.

All we can do, in this human family, is to be aware and to care. There is something powerful in that and it heals.

I'm still listening to the wind, knowing it brings a better day."

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