Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fear is a Funny Thing

There are few things in this world more paralyzing than fear. And there are all different kinds of fear that attack us. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of not being good enough, fear of loss, fear of never having enough, fear of dying, fear of pain, fear of being alone, fear of moving forward... the list goes on and on. In fact, each one of those fears has pages and subparagraphs and outlines with squadrons of specialists, lawyers, and therapists to decipher, interpret, and make that fear larger or smaller in comparison to whatever it is you're looking at.

Fear has a foothold in my brain, and I wrestle with it constantly. The more I face it, the weaker it gets, or perhaps the stronger it makes me, I'm not sure. But there are some fears that are primal, deep, that seem to run from the inside of my bones and have absolute control. And today I have to face some of those fears because I have no control to change the situation or affect the outcome.

When I was young, life was not easy. I'm not alone in this, I am sure. But my grandparents house was the one stable thing in life. And while I know that it was my grandparents who made the house a home, the home itself became the symbol for stability, comfort, safety, love, acceptance, etc.

Let me see if I can set the scene. My grandparents lived in a small farming/mining community in Idaho nestled in a small valley. Grandpa built grandma her dream house about halfway up the south mountain, where the break in the cedar forest became wheat fields up the side of the mountain almost to the top. A small creek runs near the house where the cow and horse pastures sit. North of the house is a pond that is seeded - it used to be grandpa's pond, but he sold it to the city and they have fishing days there now. Above the pond on that side of the hill is the big S. To me it is the most beautiful place in the world. When looking out of the family room windows, you can see the cedars, the town including the geyser that goes off once an hour, and the hills on the other side of the valley. To the north is Monstanto, which makes the skies ever so pretty when they dump their slag. It always looked like a volcano when the slag would dump at night, which made grandma's house not only pretty, but unique. We dubbed the cedars "The Jungle" and my brothers and I would run around in this jungle finding flowers, old bones, and lava caves. Meadowlarks really do sing in the mornings, and the sky looks as if it's been painted.

It's a slice of heaven
I remember once when I was very young my mom and I (and probably my brothers, but they were my little brothers and who ever pays attention to little brothers when you're five or six?) were driving to Soda to visit my grandparents. I remember we came in and crossed the viaduct to head to church and saw smoke and flames coming up from the cedar forest, not far from my grandparent's house. So, you can imagine my dismay when we saw fire licking up over the tree-tops when we crossed the viaduct. I remember sinking down into the car seat, hoping that if I pretended it wasn't there, it would go away. But when we got to church, my grandfather got up in Sacrament Meeting and called for all able-bodied men to go up and help fight the fire. It was the first time I'd ever seen church dismissed before anyone spoke. My grandmother put me to work helping make sandwiches, and then took me with her to drive food to the men.

If you've never been behind a fire line, it's... it's a scary place to be. I wasn't allowed outside the truck. I remember the heat, the flames, the black scorch marks, the look of exploded trees. The look of exhaustion and determination on the men's faces. I remember the fear and faith of my mom and grandmother. There's still an empty place in the cedars to this day where the skeletons of the dead trees sit, like it's a cemetery for trees. Nothing has grown back, which I find odd. (note, I haven't hiked through there in over ten years, so some trees have probably started to come up by now... they'd have to, right?)

After I moved from Soda to Utah, I had nightmares consistently about the family home in Soda being in danger. 90% of the dreams were fire. There were some variations, though. Sometimes it was aliens. Sometimes it was volcano, earthquakes, missiles, etc. In every dream I would be trying to get to the house an unable to reach it. In the case of the aliens, we were only safe from their mind control if we were at the house. Every chance that I had to go back home, I would sit there and just enjoy the feel of the place, glad that it was still standing, glad that I'd been privileged to spend my early teen years there being a farm girl.

So when the phone call came today that there was a wildfire in the cedars, and that it had jumped the creek and was headed to the house, and to please pray for the safety of the home as well as the homes of others who have built in the area, I of course did so without hesitation. Pleading to please, please, please save the house. The house no longer belongs to my grandparents. It was sold to my aunt and uncle, and it is now their home. But it's still "home" to my brothers and I. The idea of it is, at any rate. I cried and cried with fear for the house.I don't want the other people who live near there to lose their homes, either. They are all friends and people who I love dearly. I don't want any of them to be without their homes.

And I can't seem to make the fear go away that the house will burn up and be gone and I'll have lost that beacon, that symbol for everything that was right in my life. I have no control over the fire, though. I have no impact on the flames, the wind, or the lack of rain. I can only look at the situation and tell myself the house is just wood, brick, and mortar, lovingly crafted by my grandfather and his cousin Gwyn, and it, like anything else in life, is temporary. I know it's the memories that mean the most, and I am trying very hard to not let fear push me back into a gibbering puddle of crying goo. I love home. I love my family. I know that people can rebuild and fix things. I know the world is not going to end.

But there's still the wrestle with fear. This fear that the world really won't be right if that house burns down. And so I sit and write long blog posts about facing the fear so it won't have power over me. Everything will work out one way or another.

Grandpa plowing the road with the bulldozer. Best sledding EVER.

My oldest daughter's first horse ride. You can kind of see the house peeking through the trees near the top of the photo, the creek is behind the photographer. 

the family built the stairs to make it easier to get down to the garden

the best view of the house I could find in pictures.

Update: July 19, 2012: Pictures of the fire from yesterday, Soda Springs, Idaho. It is under control; all three houses that were threatened are safe, but there are still flare-ups. My Uncle and cousins worked through the night to control the flare-ups. The fire came within 50 yards of the house and missed several trees that would have led directly to the house had they gone up. I am thanking God with all my heart today for small miracles.

the portion of the fire burning on Rabbit Hill up behind the house.

close-up of the fire on Rabbit Hill

The fire path below the house between the creek and the outbuildings

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