Tara Schram

Goat racing, scratching the pigs with sticks through the fence, feeding the chickens, walking down the dirt road with my mom who said “If I could give you a pill that would keep you this age forever, would you take it?”  These are some of things that I remember growing up.  It was warm, safe, comforting and beautiful. 

I made a choice, I married a man who was unwilling or unable to see me, partner with me, or be kind to me.  So when I walked out of that I was amazed to find that through the pain, God brought restoration and something better than I could have imagined.  And now I am surrounded with boys, young men, a husband who adores, loves and takes care of me.

Alcohol – fun, exciting, empowering, boring, tiring, defeating, destruction … walking through the darkest days, the ugliest of myself and then out of that into light – again imagine my surprise that through pain God birthed growth, insight, responsibility, humility, new life, a better life.

Losing a pregnancy that I had so desperately wanted – devastation and depression.  Again, here comes renewal, rebirth, and new life.  By surrendering to the pain, being open to the future, trusting … I found more of myself – my true self- the strong, confident, generous person that was hiding behind self-pity, shame and anger.

A few life experiences that prepared me for The Creek Fire and what total devastation that was.  Pack the car, the kids, the dogs, the parents while coughing through thick smoke and hope that “it won’t make it this far, right?” Within two days we were not only told that everything was gone, everything – but sent a picture of a small pile of ash which was what was left of not only all of our “stuff” but our comfort, safety, warmth, place of memory making.

I can tell you with honesty that at this point my inclination was that, once again, there must be something better on the other side.  But walking through the valley – the fear – the pain – the loss – the explaining to our kids, little hearts and faces with no control of what was going on, that was not easy.

But here I am again on the other side of it.  I’m transported back to walking that dirt road with my mom. It’s warm, safe, comforting and beautiful.  Our landscape has changed, our dwelling is different but not worse, not lost, just different.  The friendships gained and built upon, the understanding of what is truly important, the pulling together of community, the character building in my own kids, the witnessing of new growth and new life coming up from the earth on a canvas of black and mirroring something similar within my heart … I can’t think of a better picture of “beauty from ashes” and when you boil it all down, strip away all of the layers of emotions, planning, logistics that come with walking through a chaotic and devastating thing such as this wildfire – this is what I get… this is what I see “beauty from ashes” and I feel gratitude.