What the California Wildfires Have Taught Me About Being Human

And a short prayer for the apocalypse

There’s been a lot of references to apocalypse this year. It’s funny how everyone sounds like a theologian in 2020 (several global crises all at once can do that to you).

The greek word apokálypsis means revelation or unfolding. Living in the Sierra Valley of Northern California during the wildfires of summer 2020 has revealed one big thing (of many) to me…

It’s revealed just how hopeless and helpless humans truly are.

The North Complex fire, which started an hour west of where I live, started a month ago and has burned — at the time of this writing — 258,802 acres and is only 26% contained. There are currently 3,329 people actively fighting this fire.

And every day, for the last month, the smoke rests heavily on the floor of the Sierra Valley where I live. It’s like we’re pissing into the — well, yes, the wind, but also into a wall of flames.

We humans think we have nature under control.
We think that nature will conform to our will.

Nope.
Not the case.

Right now, I’m seeing mother nature effectively telling us,

“Silly humans… Listen up: You’ve been trying for thousands of years to beat me into submission (especially those of you in certain parts of the world). Please stop it. For your own good. I could care less. I could consume you all in an instant. Now’s a good time to have a change of heart — a metanoia, or repentance as some have expressed it. Unfortunately, your species has to be pushed to the brink of disaster in order to have this metanoia. And so, here we are. You need me, humans. I don’t need you. We work better together. Way better. Your life literally depends on it.”

Dear reader, now, I don’t know your personal political/environmental stances. I’m also no expert on wildfire prevention and the historical-political situation behind it. But I think you might agree that we’ve been treating the earth pretty horribly for a long time. Our so-called human progress has come much to the destruction of the world we live in. And we think that it’ll be fine. That nature will just handle it. So we keep kicking the can down the road.

I don’t know all the answers, but I know that changing our ways won’t hurt. Here’s my short prayer for today…

I pray that God can turn us in the right direction. I pray that the ways to live rightly with our environment be revealed to all of us — no matter what side of the political aisle we’re on — in this apocalyptic year. I pray that future generations be spared hellish summers like this one.

May we be granted the wisdom to live in sacred partnership with our planet instead of in opposition to it. May it be revealed and received that this is our true self-interest.

Amen.