……from your Pastor’s Desk

As I write this, it is October 8th 2020.
Do you know exactly where you were on October 8th 2017?
Yes. You do. We all do.
Around 9:43 pm, the Tubbs Fire started.
It was a Sunday.
We all remember the panic and confusion.
People hearing reports, substantiated or not, of how fast the fire was spreading.
And the evacuations began.
Many people were asleep when this happened and since the power went out could not even turn on the news.

I remember car after car coming to our parking lot and not knowing what to do. I knew, from the police, that the Vets Center was a place they could go – so I directed them there. “Just join the line of cars”, I said. And they did. This went on for hours and finally, sometime after mid-night, it was just me, standing in the parking lot with ashes falling around me.

Hard to bring up those memories. Having been in a few, it WAS like a War-Zone. Even sounded like one with the transformers and propane tanks exploding, and flames on both sides.

I was spraying down [hooked four hoses together] the building roofs as much as I could, when the cops pulled back in and told me I had to leave NOW – so they too, could leave. I got in my car and drove to the driveway, when I finally realized, I had nowhere to go. Everyone I knew here was already evacuated. I then called parishioners who live in Petaluma and made my way down there.

I came right back up to Santa Rosa the next morning and stayed with other parishioners [as the evacuation continued] and was able to have home masses where those we could contact could be able to gather for support and The Eucharist. I also tried to visit as many as I could where I could find them.

And it drew us together. And we clearly saw how people reached out to others. Race, Creed, Color, mattered not. Hands reached out and hands were taken. We recovered, and somehow made it through. Although the parish buildings all survived, many of our parishioners lost their homes in that fire. Others had had enough and just moved away.

Today is October 8th, 2020.
Do you remember where you were on September 27th 2020?
Yes. You do. We all do.
Around 3:48 am, the Glass Fire started.
It also was a Sunday.

At first didn’t think we were in much danger here, this far away. But that night the fire traveled at seemingly light-speed and we saw the glow of the wall of fire coming over our ridge.
And then the flames.
We all remember the panic and confusion.
People hearing reports, substantiated or not, of how fast the fire was spreading.
And the evacuations began.
Many people were asleep when this happened and since the power went out could not even turn on the news.

But this time – we were ready. Many had ‘Go-bags’ prepared with important documents and articles of clothing and family memorabilia. Vehicles were quickly packed up with necessities. Children were properly dressed, bundled up and with the family pets – again – joined the line of cars, often dead stopped on Highway 12. I joined them shortly before midnight. It took 46 minutes to get from the rectory to Highway-12. But we got out. We all did.

But this time is truly different. We aren’t just fighting the fires. Whereas three years ago we banded together and formed little communities and shared everything from bottles of water to dry socks. This time, along with the fire, we have an even worse enemy with which to contend. The Corona Virus. Covid 19. No more house-masses or going to visit shut-ins and the people in hospital. No more gathering in church for Masses of thanksgiving and asking for continued protection. No more hugs or holding hands in prayer or getting to hold the new-born baby being passed around at a parish social-event.

And, seemingly, this ‘fire’ this ‘covid’ has no end in sight.

But, once again, we will make it through. Just as a building does not make a ‘church ‘nor does a disease or illness define a person. We are here for each other as we always were, albeit at 6 feet away and masked. A ninety-year-old widow asked me three days ago, with tears in her eyes; “Father, when will this all end.?” I could only answer; ‘I don’t know, but let us not lose hope. For one day it too shall pass’.

And, it shall. Do not lose hope. Do not despair.

I used to always say. ‘The best is yet to come’.
Now, more than ever, I am trying to still believe that.

Fr. Ron

As I write this the Glass fire still blazes. Let us continue to pray for all those effected by it and especially for the fire-fighters and other first responders.

Comments are closed.