I remember as a child watching a tall office building burn down. I remember the hook and ladder truck reaching for the top and looking so thin and flimsy next to the raging inferno. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

Another time in my childhood, the hay barn of a neighbour burned to the ground. It burned all day (and smoked for many after), and the firetrucks came from all around the county, zooming by our house, sirens screaming. It was a beautiful, east-coast-sky-blue summer day, and black, black smoke roiled furiously for hours. We stood in the backyard and watched it all.

In later years, my husband’s cousin lost his entire pig farm operation to an electrical fire. The historic barn, the newer addition, and hundreds of pigs were lost. It was a tragedy. Interestingly enough, his cousin now says that the fire was a good thing. Painful at the time, it also gave them a new start, a new opportunity. They now operate a beautiful boarding facility for horses, which had been part of their original dream at the beginning.

Friends of ours just lost their modern dairy barn, more than 100 milking cows, in a brilliant blaze that lit up the night. Again, my husband was there to help pick up the pieces and clean up debris. And he wasn’t the only one. Neighbours and friends from all around came to help. A community dinner and dance will be held in support of the four families who earn their living from milk. And meanwhile, they are beginning to speak of rebuilding.

And this is the amazing thing about disaster. When we are faced with it, we have a choice.

To give up or go on.

To sink or swim.

To die or rise again.

When you study the history of the old downtowns of cities or villages, it is common to learn of vicious fires that raged through a whole street of structures. Most often, today’s viewer cannot tell where the damage had been.

I love the poetry of Isaiah 61, where it says that God comes to

“Provide for those who grieve-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”

No matter what difficult thing you may be facing, I hope that you will begin to be able to experience beauty instead of ashes.

Like sitting by a crackling fire on the hearth on a cold winter’s day…

This blog post inspired by a WordPress writing prompt:


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