Monday, June 25, 2012

Waldo Canyon

It is Monday morning.  For many, it is just the start of another work week. But for many around the State of Colorado it is another day to wait, watch, and pray that the flames do not crest the hill, roll to the west, or catch a warm wind.  It is fire season and the state is aflame with at least eight major fires.

Many of our Wilson friends have been evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon fire.  It is currently burning west of Colorado Springs and east of Woodland Park.  It is raging from Manitou Springs to the Garden of the Gods and moving toward to the Air Force Academy.  For those who know the geography, you will recognize the western foot hills that unfold to set the stage for the majesty of Pikes Peak.  It is also the nestled home of the Flying W Ranch and the Wilson United Methodist Church.

I stood in the church yard yesterday and watched the boiling smoke rumble just beyond the ridge that is the last line of protection for the church.

From a philosophical and spiritual point of view I understand the reality of natural disaster that results in danger, damage, and general evil that invades without concern for anything that might get in the path.  I also know that the Word of God invites us not to be anxious.  But we were and we are.  Everyone is anxious because no one knows what will happen next.  The options are not wonderful!  What should you pack in your car?  Should you go to the shelter or bunk with friends?  What will we do it the house is destroyed?  Is everyone safe?  Anxiety!

Yesterday I spoke on the phone with a friend and colleague who was impacted by another Colorado fire.  This one was on the west edge of Estes Park.  Dale and his wife retired from active ministry in the mid-west and moved to their dream retirement home in the city of Estes Park just west of the Big Thompson Canyon.  Two days ago, their home (along with 20 others) burned to the ground. 

Dale's voice sounded calm.  He was mostly captured by the kindness of the people at Hope United Methodist Church were he was leading his final worship service this past weekend.  They demonstrated an out pouring of grace, compassion, and generosity as they gathered around Dale and his wife to provide support.  His voice sounded calm.

This morning my thoughts went back a few years ago when I was with some of our Beeson DMin students at an event in San Diego.  At the time, the hills of San Diego were aflame with wild fire.  We didn't know until the last minute if the event would take place or be cancelled because of the raging Southern California fires.

On one particular afternoon we drove north out of San Diego through a large area that had just burned a couple of days earlier.  We were on our way to the office of Ken Blanchard.  You will remember Blanchard as the author of The One Minute Manager and a whole series of leadership resources.  We found his office and were greeted at the door by Dr. Blanchard himself.  He escorted us into a conference room, greeted and chatted with each individual, and offered us the hospitality of a large snack buffet that had been prepared for our arrival.

He sat down and shared about his role as the Chief Spiritual Officer of The Kenneth Blanchard Companies that he founded with his wife Marjorie.  It was a delightful conversation with profound leadership insights shared in a very informal setting.  At the close of the session one of our students inquired about the next steps that were on Ken's mind.  He casually shared that he and his wife were meeting with their son in just an hour to decide what to do next.  Then he shared some remarkable news.
Just one day earlier, their home had been completely destroyed by the fires.  We couldn't believe it! Here he was taking time to serve us drinks and share his story when he knew that his family home had just been destroyed.  His voice was calm.

Waldo Canyon, Estes Park, High Park, and the hills of San Diego.  Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, also believe in me.  For in my Father's house....."  His voice was calm.

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