When Bad Fires Happen to Good People


“What did I do to deserve this?” Kiat Tohsakul, a local TV news program manager, said while looking at several unscathed homes next to his in Rancho Bernardo in northern San Diego.

“I have no idea why we got saved and others didn’t,” said John Becker, who lives less than a quarter mile away, as he arrived at his house to find only a touch of damage to a fence.

(Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Wildfire Lottery, October 24, 2007)

In the wake of this week’s wildfires, which have caused the largest evacuation from a natural disaster in California history, it seems that the questions that we most naturally respond with are loaded with “why?” and “what could we have done to prevent this?” When my husband walked out on me to move in with another woman, I asked myself those same questions. When it feels like a bomb has instantaneously destroyed your innocent life, it’s only natural to wonder why you are getting singled out while others are allowed to peacefully go along their merry way.

I imagine that the half a million people forced to evacuate their homes this week are without an answer just yet for why this has happened to them. Perhaps the reason will unfold for some in the weeks, months, and years to come. Maybe some will never know. There is a reason, though, because the fires were created through the will of the divine. I know, we don’t normally associate bad stuff with the divine, but if you believe like I do that divine energy is all there is, there’s no denying it.

Why would the divine create a disaster that would destroy the homes of thousands? While I certainly don’t profess to know the answer to this question, I do believe that everything that happens is meant to take us to our collective higher good. And I find a lot of peace and hope in this belief. What can be seen through human eyes is very different from spiritual sight. As hard as it may be to fathom this right now, what may seem to us right now as massive physical destruction might also be paving the way for a deeper cleansing and healing of sorts.

My prayers go out to all of those who have been touched by the wildfires, and to those of us whose homes have been saved. May we all find a sense of peace and hope in what we cannot humanly understand.