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Fragility and Strength

Nature has made lots of news lately. Wind, flood, and fire. I live in the part of the country effected by fires. Hundreds of homes and buildings burned. Thousands of people watched both the horizon and the weather reports to see if the fires were headed their way, if they needed to run, wondering what to grab, what to leave for the flames to destroy. 

I happened to drive in the direction of one of the largest fires a few weeks ago and had to cut my day trip short due to road closures caused by the fires. I got as far as Graham, Texas, and walked into their local art museum, established in a former post office.

All the art on display was by high school students. It was good, inventive, exploratory, and often meaningful. And there was a remarkable variety of techniques and media on display. I was captivated by the painting below by Cheyann Hayes. A few days later, I received an email from Graham resident Sue Gilmore that expressed the experience of so many people in this vibrant small town. There was devastation, and there was hope. There was newfound respect and appreciation for the people on whom our lives depend--and a time of reawakening our sense of vulnerability and our need for each other as a community. There was Cheyann's  bright "voice" of youth in a vibrant painting, and Sue's mature, poetic voice reflecting on the outer fire that burns and the inner fire that sustains.  It's a perfect pair.

Painting by Cheyann Hayes

"We are humbly thankful for the rain we received.  Humbly thankful for the many firefighters who came from all over America to save our towns.  They were our first line of defense when it looked like the fire would continue to consume homes, wildlife, cattle, etc.  Some of our own fought on the front lines against the fire.  Some of our own watched the towering flames just across the river from their homes, praying it would not jump.  Spectacular walls of fire such as I'd never seen before or would have believed, reached for the heavens.  Then the rains came, and we danced and we praised and cried.
We are well.  
We will give the firefighters a send-off back to their homes,
                                                          with newfound respect."                                                                 

Sue Gilmore


Anonymous said…
My friend, I am humbled and honored to be included with this piece. Truly, it does capture our lives of this April.

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