Love, Fire, And Horses

by Rich Dixon on June 15, 2012

Perhaps you’ve heard about the wildfires raging across the western US. One of the worst, the High Park Fire, has devoured more than 52,000 acres (81 sq. miles) of pristine, tinder-dry forest lands within a dozen miles of my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Friends are displaced from homes that may not exist when they return. Volunteer firefighters battle to save structures while their own properties are destroyed. In our city, children and elderly folks are advised to remain indoors, the rest of us to curtail outdoor exercise due to poor air quality that’ll likely linger for weeks.

On my morning training rides, the normal inspiring view of snow-capped Rocky Mountain peaks is obscured by a haze of brown, black, and white smoke indicating the various types of fuels and structures being consumed. A constant stream of helicopters and planes drop water and chemical retardant. “The fire” dominates conversations. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the air of concern that hangs over the city like the cloud of smoke.

One artifact of this event is displaced animals. Many mountain properties are home to large animals, particularly horses. It’s one thing to move into a friend’s spare bedroom with dogs and cats. It’s not quite so easy to place a couple of spare horses in a suburban backyard.

Rescue organizations are doing what they can, but crowded shelters create a stressful situation for animals and owners alike. This morning a lady on television news demonstrated a spirit of common generosity.

She has extra pasture space, and understands the stress involved when horses are confined in temporary pens with inadequate exercise. So she’s simply opening her property to anyone who wants to bring their horses. She wants the horses and their owners to feel loved.

She was very clear that she doesn’t have enough hay to feed the extra animals, but she wasn’t worried. She said God would take care of it.

I’ll bet she doesn’t think she’s doing anything special. Just like the firefighters, or the folks bringing supplies to the Red Cross shelter—if you asked them they’d say someone else is the real hero.

The horse lady, the firefighters, the countless volunteers—they’re changing the world. They’re serving selflessly and unconditionally, doing what they can, where they are, with what they have.

I look at them and see Jesus in tee-shirts and blue jeans.

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