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Wildfires Ashes and Coals of Gratitude and Healing —a note from Tinka Friend

Tinka Friend, a Unitarian Universalist in Southern California and editor of the newsletter "Serenity" writes us this note from her part of the world. --JGR

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Now that all the wildfires surrounding us have died down and we can breathe again... I just finished the November and December issues of "Serenity." I already had half of Nov. done when we were hit all around us by fires. Fortunately, we personally were not threatened, and everyone from our Unitarian Universalist church survived with property intact, although several had to evacuate for 2-3 weeks.

It was eerie going to work at the school with red skies for several days and white ash slowly drifting down on us as the children dash outside to get to the bathrooms or get lunch, which was brought back and eaten in the classroom; blacktop play areas covered white with the ash; many of the students, especially those with asthma, wearing masks or covering their noses and mouths with kleenex. But the red sun for days was the most unsettling.

Red Sun, California Fires, by Rev. John MillspaughRed Sun, California Fires, by Rev. John Millspaugh>Red Sun, California Fires, by Rev. John Millspaugh

"Red Sun," by Rev. John Millspaugh

I was touched by what I saw of people reaching out to help...stories on the news and stories shared at church. So I quickly used that for the Dec. issue...reaching out, helping others, giving comfort. I conduct a Healing Vespers monthly at the church, and this time the focus was on the exhausted firefighters, the people who were evacuated, those who lost homes and property and animals, those waiting to hear the fate of their house, children who found themselves sleeping in strange unfamiliar locations without the comfort of their animals, toys, pictures, and, of course, those who died. There was a greater visibility of Day of the Dead rituals.

After 2-3 weeks of unhealthy air quality, my students were finally able to stay outside for recess a few days ago. No running around, but they could stretch their legs. You can imagine the relief of the teachers to finally have a break from the students after several weeks.

We are slowly getting back into our routines again.

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