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Yesterday, a woman in a rural area of Northern California, where communities and farmers have been stricken by the devastating wildfires, shared her video of help arriving. I’m used to people sharing videos on Facebook, and I often scroll right past them. But when a dear friend posted this video on my wall yesterday, I was compelled to watch it, and my heart was touched on several levels.

The woman who recorded this video was expressing her amazement and thanks for the people from nearby North Lake County and Humboldt County (Fortuna, Ferndale and Eureka)— who caravaned over the hills, south and east to fire-striken Middletown, bringing truckloads of clothing, toiletries, pet food, farm animal feed, hay for horses and cattle, as well as farm equipment and relief workers. Watch the joyful arrival here:


My friend shared this with me because she knew my husband’s family has deep roots in the village of Ferndale and I lived during my youth in Fortuna (which was part of my story in Journeys to Mother Love). When my husband and I go back to visit that rugged and beautiful region, we are reminded of the resilience and strength of the people there who have suffered many natural disasters (extreme floods and earthquakes) as well as lasting economic downturns. Those folk know what it’s like to lose so much and be so grateful when help comes. Now they are jumping at the chance to give back.

Experiencing this generosity of spirit truly is an up side of going through such loss as the fire victims have. I relate to this partly because of my own experience as a young child when our house burned down in the night. We lost everything and were “homeless” and dependent on others for a while. But, in spite of the effects of the trauma of barely escaping from a burning house, I am thankful to have experienced the overwhelming outpouring of love and generosity, from the community and from area churches, toward our little family.

This personal video posted on Facebook (with a public setting) definitely touched a nerve with me. I know, there is always more to every story. And we may never know “the rest of the story” of this particular person who took the video. But we can have our hearts lifted by her very real and immediate response to compassionate help arriving on the scene of her need and the needs of her community. And that gives us a glimpse of the goodness that still exists in this world.

The sometimes-uncomfortable but inescapable fact is that compassion is often developed in extremely difficult situations and life experiences.

My prayer: “Lord, help me grow stronger in grace and compassion, more resilient and giving, as a result of the batterings of this life. Thank you for the surprises of help and encouragement you bring along the way.”

~Catherine Lawton