Dear Friends in Christ,
We are in a time of preparation in our diocese. Here at the Office of the Bishop, we are preparing for Diocesan Convention and the flurry of activity that goes along with that, but preparations for more somber happenings are happening in other areas of the diocese.
In Sonoma fires broke out last night. We have contacted pastoral leaders and they are beginning to reach out to parish members and preparing to help. I pray for a speedy end to the fire and am grateful to the first responders who are in place even now: We are praying for all those in harm’s way, and we stand with you.
In recent days we have been preparing for another power outage, as PG&E has announced that they will and have shut off power in large areas of our state. We have already experienced this kind of an outage and the difficulties that go along with it. The concerns about how to get water for ourselves and our animals. The worry about food and the extra resources that it will take to make provision for our families and others that we love. We heard first hand stories about the hardships of being without power last week when we were in the Sierras: We hear you, and we stand with you.
Others are preparing to commemorate the fires that have ravaged our diocese in the last few years. Anniversary Commemorations are at hand for those who experienced the Camp Fire. Some have just observed the anniversaries of the Carr Fire and fires that burned in Sonoma, Lake and other counties in our diocese. I have listened as survivors tell stories of difficulty and trauma. I have also heard brave stories of recovery and service. I know the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has walked every painful path ahead of us. He is called the man of sorrows. Because we are his followers and he walks with us still, we can affirm to you: We see you, and we stand with you.
I have also been made aware that there is a new documentary coming out on streaming television that tells a story of the fire in Paradise. The trailer itself is so evocative of the danger of that fire that simply viewing it can bring up old trauma. For this reason, some of us will choose to view it, or the documentary, and others will know this is not the time or place to do so: We love you, and we stand with you.
Friends, we know that all of the circumstances listed above can cause intense emotional reactions. These reactions are a normal part of dealing with past experiences and the many steps moving forward. If you are experiencing these feelings, please know that you are not alone.
As I said earlier in this message, we stand with you and encourage you to activate whatever support system you have in place; your counselor, your clergy, or those in your care group, and share what you’re feeling. Create a plan now about reading and viewing all the media that will surround us in the coming weeks. Decide what you can, and what you shouldn’t, read or watch. We pray for you who are experiencing traumatic memories and feelings from past experience with fire. Our Good Shepherd is also called the Risen Lord. Because we follow the one who rose again we pray: May God bring you healing.
One of the preparations we are making for Diocesan Convention is for a commemoration of the Camp Fire, joining those who will be on site in Paradise and the Ridge that day. You may remember that last year, when we were preparing to travel to convention on Nov. 8, the fire had made its way over the mountain into Paradise and the surrounding areas. This year, on Nov. 8 at 11:08 am, we will stop business on the floor of convention and observe 86 seconds of silence as we remember the 86 who lost their lives. Not everyone will be at convention and yet this is something that we can all do together. Would you consider pausing for 86 seconds at 11:08 on Nov. 8, 2019, wherever you are, as we join others across the region in these moments of silence?
Let us pray together a prayer for quiet confidence in the midst of fire, recovery and preparations.
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP 832 #59