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  • Lisa McMinn

Of Fires and Wobbly Hope


I am feeling frayed today. Oregon is on fire and the losses are nearly overwhelming. My personal losses are few, the collective ones unimaginable.


Two thoughts are saving me today. One came from a conversation with 10-year-old Grace yesterday. She often asks me to tell her my favorite memory from childhood, favorite place I ever lived, the worst ever pain or injury I had. I find these questions endearing, even if difficult to answer. Today I told her that when her granddaughter asks about her most memorable year, she might well say 2020. I said, “you won’t call it your favorite year, just your most memorable,” and she said, “I might call it my favorite." I looked at her quizzically, and she said, "it might be my favorite, because it may be the one with the most inner growth.” Indeed. Such seeds only want for water. A reminder on a day I’m feeling tender about all the losses these fires represent for human and non-human creatures, for forests and the sacred and beautiful sanctuaries their presence creates.

The second happened during a conversation with Laura on the porch of a vacated house where her family is staying temporarily since the fires have driven them from their homes. I brought Fern Creek produce and a jar of flowers and some homemade jam, knowing its inadequacy to fill any real need, but knowing enough by now to hope such a gesture might offer another kind of sustenance. Through masks intended to stave off Covid though not the fires' smoke, we talked of literal fires, and the figurative political and social ones. How could we not? We're in the home stretch of 2020, wondering what our nation will look like when we cross the finish line.


Laura lives deeply and I have touched that depth in my friendship with her, even though we don't interact often. As I left I said, “I know that all will be well,” and she paused until I looked her in the eyes and then said, “All is well.” I held her gaze, nodded and repeated, "all is well," and we touched the deep truth of it together for a moment—that exquisite existential truth that already all is well, though it is a hard truth to hold and even touching it for a moment requires a struggle to embrace the mystery of things being very much not well while acknowledging in a deeper place things already are.


I wonder if the struggle to hold that tension is similar to feeling wobbly about what I understand about God just now. Yet this struggle too, is part of the journey.


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© 2019 Lisa Graham McMinn

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