It’s been a wild ride for California recently.
Fires and shootings.
It seems like this is some sort of new normal.
We could spend all day arguing about the causes of these things.
But let’s not.
This set of fires hit close to home for me.
My boyfriend lived in Paradise, CA for 6 months beginning around this time last year.
It’s a funky little mountain town that I had never heard of prior to him being there.
But we came to love that funky little mountain town.
He was there for 5 months and I on some weekends.
We explored as much as we could.
We dove into the history of this town.
We drove up and down that mountain countless times.
The mountain hasn’t moved.
But the town in pretty much gone.
The fire ripped through the town at ungodly speeds.
I wasn’t there.
I’m not there.
I didn’t experience anything that the Paradise residents did.
But I’m definitely sad.
It’s a strange feeling.
I didn’t lose anything compared to those in Paradise.
But it’s a sad thing to know that the cute little apartment that you spent Christmas in last year is burnt to ashes.
I even made Christmas tree shaped pancakes for breakfast that day!
Migrating down the state, closer to home, Agoura Hills.
It’s this historic site that makes you want to hop on a horse in appropriate old-time clothes.
It was used in tons of movies and TV shows.
And there’s a bluegrass festival held there every year that’s important to my boyfriend and I.
It was burnt down.
One day after Paradise was burnt down.
It was a tough week.
And feelings that we felt we had no right to feel.
Because again, what did we really lose compared to everyone else?
We have gone through pictures over the last few days.
It’s terribly sad.
Every place that we ate at, explored, went to - gone.
Except a particular building in both spots.
There’s a Catholic Church in Paradise that I used to go to while my boyfriend was at work.
Every building surrounding it was at minimum damaged but many were destroyed.
The Church was not touched.
Not in the least bit.
There’s a little white chapel.
But the rest of the ranch in unrecognizable.
I couldn’t help but think.
Maybe it really is our faith, our God that is the only constant.
I never guessed that little apartment would be gone.
Or the places we used to eat or explore or play music would be ashes.
But now they are.
I never thought that our God would leave.
And He hasn’t.
And He won’t.
Not that a church building defines or equates God.
But it certainly stands as a symbol and a miracle.
It feels like our whole state is on fire.
That everything around us is falling apart.
And maybe so.
But our God is here.
He is unshakable, unwavering, unchanging.
The world might fail or fall or go up in flames.
But there is our God.
A stable and constant source of love.
He isn’t going anywhere.
This is the church in Paradise.
This is the chapel at Paramount Ranch.