Friday, August 03, 2007


This morning I went outside to get the LA Times and saw that everything was coated with ash. We've had ash off and on in the mornings since the Zaca Fire began. It is burning about 45 miles from where I live, on the other side of the Santa Ynez mountains. When the winds are coming from the right direction, the fire, which has burned over 38,000 acres, drops ash on Santa Barbara.

We are far from the fire. Its immediate consequences do not impact us here in SB. Indeed, the local newspaper isn't even providing its own coverage of the fire. They run the Associated Press stories! But today, if you have breathing problems you don't want to go outside. The ash lying on auto finishes has an impact. It touches us far away in unexpected ways that are only related to the fire itself in peripheral ways.

A few weeks ago, William Lobdell, told of his loss of faith in column one of the LA Times. He had the religion beat for a number of years. As he worked there and experienced, time after time, the sins of different faith leaders and groups, he lost faith. None of those leaders gave any thought to William Lobdell. They never imagined that abusing a little boy in a Catholic church would cause a writer for the LA Times to lose faith. A group of Mormons never imagined that shunning a fallen church member would so impact this stranger miles away. Like the ash falling on us in Santa Barbara, their actions and the actions of others left a mark on this man who they may never have even met and eventually killed his faith.

I think it was courageous for him to share his story and I pray for him. I hope that some day he is able to find faith again and feel the joy and peace it obviously gave him at one point in his life. I thank him for sharing his story that reminds me that my actions touch the lives of people far away and there may be ashes that mark someone whom I've never even met. I pray for myself that my actions and words will be reflective of what I claim to believe, of the loving Prince of Peace whom I try to follow. Thank you William.

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