Tonight, as I drove home, way past my bedtime, I glanced west out of my car window. I’ve been looking west a lot these past few days, watching smoke billow from these mountains that have been my compass for the past six years. But tonight, for the first time since the wildfires began close to Colorado Springs, I saw the source of smoke. Glowing orange in the dark night, I saw fire.
And 20 minutes later, I found myself sitting on the hood of my car, the cool night air almost making me forget the brutal heat from earlier in the day. I sat, and I stared as flames licked at the ridge, far away enough to feel some measure of safety, but close enough to feel fear. From my open car windows poured Bruce Springsteen, singing my new favorite “anthem” song, “Wrecking Ball.”
Before long, my throat burned, and my chest was a tangle of emotion and smoke. This bizarre combination of fire threatening the city I now call home, and Springsteen’s voice carrying across the smoky night air reached a place in me that I couldn’t quite identify. I knew it wasn’t the fire, and it wasn’t the music. It was what they represented.
Fear is met by persistence.
Out of control is met by hanging tight.
Hurt is met by forgiveness.
I can’t is met by I will.
Destruction is met by rebuilding.
Pain is met by grace.
Exhaustion is met by rest.
Fire is met by rain.
As I watched the fire grew brighter, brighter, and then faded until I had to squint to see it over the city lights. I knew it was still there, devouring everything in its path. But this fire, this destruction, will not be the end. Beauty from ashes. Strength from fear.
I reached into my car and turned up the radio. And let Bruce’s words drift out and up into the smoke.
Now when all this steel and these stories,
they drift away to rust
And all our youth and beauty,
it’s been given to the dust
And your game has been decided,
and you’re burning the down the clock
And all our little victories and glories,
have turned into parking lots
When your best hopes and desires,
are scattered to the wind
And hard times come,
hard times go…
Yeah just to come again
Bring on your wrecking ball