Faith is the Bird

Author: Nancy Wade


“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” Rabindranath Tagore 

Nearly seven years ago, political circumstances at work made it necessary for me to retire earlier than planned. I was reluctant to make the decision; I knew I would miss a job I loved as well as my co-workers. I remember rationalizing: well, it could be worse. At least I don’t have a cancer diagnosis nor do I live in a refugee camp. I retired and my adjustment went well.

Fast forward to last weekend on what started out as a typical Saturday afternoon. My daughter came to visit and we sat on our front deck in the sunshine. Every once in a while, a chilly wind would gust insistently. It seemed like an ordinary day.

That all changed after my daughter’s departure when my husband walked to the street to pick up our mail. Upon his return to the house, he remarked, “There’s a grass fire up on the mesa.” We live in south Boulder, a mile or so from the NCAR Mesa Lab, and we have felt fortunate that uncontrolled fires there are rare.

The next few hours unfolded as if in a dream – or maybe a nightmare. Homes west of a main arterial street only eight houses from us were issued an evacuation order and we knew we were next. Having made no evacuation plan or even a list of what to pack, we put together what we could: prescription meds, a laptop, valuable jewelry, a change of clothing, toiletries, plus food and leashes for our two dogs. The tension and stress I felt kept me from thinking clearly.

By this time, the “grass fire” had accelerated; flames and billowing smoke were visible from our house. My stepson and his husband in Denver offered us shelter for the night and within about 30 minutes, we were on our way, blocked only by the traffic jam created by so many cars leaving our neighborhood all at once.

Our evacuation only lasted until 9:00 the next morning when we returned home to an intact house. No structures were damaged and no one was injured; the firefighters did a really good job of containing the fire.

During the brief 18 hours away from our home, I could not help but think about our friends and neighbors who lost their homes and possessions in the Marshall Fire three months ago. They had even less notice of danger than we did and many were given only minutes to evacuate. I have read that in most cases, the evacuees had every expectation that they would return to their homes unscathed.

The refugees in Ukraine were also on my mind as I lay awake in a strange bed Saturday night. I tried to imagine fleeing a war zone, fearing for my life, and truly not knowing what the future would hold. Whereas we faced temporary inconvenience, most Ukrainian refugees have no home to return to.

I am thinking now that it is unfair, and perhaps unkind, to compare tragedies one to the other. By stroke of luck or wind direction, our home was spared when the NCAR fire threatened our neighborhood. By good fortune and happenstance, Putin did not choose to violate and destroy our country, causing us to flee.

In this time of uncertainty and an awareness that disaster might lie around the next corner, we are comforted by the fact that right now, for now, we are safe.

Our dear God: Offer us peace and hope in the unknowing. May we know the comfort of faith before the darkness turns to dawn.


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