Sitting on the couch, watching homes burning, the beautiful landscapes and landmarks and neighborhoods ... watching the views from above, trying to see through the smoke and haze ... I couldn't help the quiet tears.
While my bags sat packed by our front door - while they still sit packed - filled with paperwork and mementos, I knew that none of those houses were mine. I knew that what I was watching didn't mean the same to me as those who were watching it from a hotel room, or packed into a shelter, or sitting at a friend's kitchen table.
But I knew that feeling. It was so much the same as sitting in our college condo, surrounded by family and friends, watching the houses seventy-five miles away covered in water - not being able to identify anything from the barely visible rooftops, the submerged street signs. Wondering, "Is that rooftop mine?"
So much of it felt the same.
But what is also the same, is the love these Coloradans have for their city. What is so very much the same is how strangers embraced each other and donated and came out in overwhelming numbers asking, "What can I do?" People waited in hour long lines in their cars to get to the first donation drop off. People opened their homes. Strangers shared tears. Children tried to understand. Parents tried to shield them.
So much of it is the same.
Tonight some are being told that their house is ash while their neighbor is being told their's was saved. Relief and guilt are being felt in the same breath. Lives are changing. So much is lost. This is the worst disaster in Colorado history. Nearly 400 homes destroyed with more to count. People feel despair. Many are grateful for their lives. There is so much admiration and appreciation and respect and awe and gratitude for the firefighters, and search and rescue, and EMS, and police officers, and every person of every entity that has put their life on the line to get others to safety, to preserve the land they love.
Every bit of it feels the same.
I am always proud to be an Army spouse - a military wife. Proud of our community and the almost automatic sense of service and duty. Humbled by the strength and perseverance of those who walk the same path. I am proud of the good that exists in the life - of the good within its people.
Tonight I am proud of the larger community that cradles Fort Carson. I am proud to live in this state. I am proud and humbled and awe-filled by how much this entire city has reached out to hold each other, to feel for each other.
You didn't have to be a military family to feel the heart break while viewing the photo of the Air Force Academy's Chapel standing before the haunting, hellish wave of flames rolling down the mountain.
You didn't have to be a Colorado native to feel the hurt by the photos of the Flying W Ranch that exists now only in ashes and destruction.
This state held onto its own and continues to wrap its arms around those who love it while the fires still rage and the land still suffers.
My city rose from the flood waters. It continues to rise daily years after the storm.
Like the phoenix, this city will rise from the flames and rebuilt and persevere and heal. The land will be scarred, its people will be scarred, but that toughens the skin, strengthens those hurting.
It allows you to remember - and remembering is important. It teaches you to be grateful. It reminds you what matters most. It builds the strongest points of your armor.
Healing takes community. This community has reminded me so much of the one I miss and love. So much of this feels the same. Shared pain, shared sorrow. Shared determination, shared hope.
Faith is most necessary when it is most difficult to foster. We are called to be faithful when the hurting is greatest, when the despair is deepest. Faith lights the road unknown.
Faith allows us to rise from the flames.
Thank you for praying for Colorado. Please continue to do so. Pray for those who have lost their homes, whose lives have changed tonight. Pray for those putting their lives on the line to tirelessly fight this fire. I cannot express how grateful I am to the firefighters and emergency crews that have not rested and have not stopped. Pray that they will continue to be strengthened in the battle.