At home and safe

Originally appeared on

A few years ago, a neighbor called late one night to say that flames were shooting out of some windows on the second floor of our condominium building. In the next few minutes, law enforcement officers rushed through the hallways knocking on the doors of residents. Everyone needed to evacuate our building immediately. Jumping out of bed, I threw on some clothes, placed two surprisingly calm cats in a pet carrier, and left. Many residents, along with others from the neighborhood, were outside mingling, crying, comforting each other—and I’m sure, like myself, praying despite the screams of police sirens, ambulances, and fire trucks.

In an attempt to calm my own thoughts, I positioned myself on the side of the building, and prayed while looking up at the flames. What came to me was something Paul asked the Corinthians in the New Testament. “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?” (II Cor 10:7). Although a question, it seemed to include the promise that even in the face of the alarming scenario of an obviously burning building, God, divine Love, is always on the scene despite the “outward appearance.” Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the heavy black smoke pouring from the roof turned to gentle white plumes. The fire had been extinguished.

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