I've Lived In Chico, CA 9 Years Now. Incredible.
After the Camp Fire: Aftermath
My fellow Butte County Volunteers: We are, most of us, past the acute phase of crisis, and into the period of "aftermath". Even our survivors, we see, have lost much. I noticed today that in some places, there were more helpers than those directly afflicted by the Camp Fires (who must, by now, be exhausted and overwhelmed, perhaps tired of "being helped.") I was especially struck by fire captains and teams ready to help feed the community, literally, after all they've done. After all they still have to do, they were there for us.
I hope that those of you who feel there were more volunteers/helpers than those in obvious need do not feel disappointed.
You came from many states. To a person, you each suffered something in the past that reminded you of what you are capable of doing when a need becomes serious, and close enough to home (emotionally) that you will go through hell and high water on a holiday to be there.
In being with so many fellow helpers, we did what we needed to do. We acknowledged the endless possibility in one another. For a few hours, we basked in life and light. We saw the role we, and all people, play in healing...whatever is within this world that is broken. Whatever we are witness to. As another volunteer said to me, "You know, at heart people are really good."
The last lines of a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye come to mind, and describe my life goals perfectly at this stage of my life; maybe yours, too:
"I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do."
(photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)