That isn't a cloud.
For the past several weeks, fires have been raging all around Utah and Colorado. Each day we'd wake up to the news report of a new outbreak somewhere in the state. We'd find a fine layer of ash on our cars when we headed out to work. It hurt to run outside because of the thick smoke in the air. Not to be dramatic, but it felt a little like the end of the world.
Last Sunday, Latter-Day-Saints in Utah were asked to pray. Our family had been praying for those in Colorado who had lost their homes, especially for my cousins and their close friends. But after Sunday's statement was read in Church we began to pray earnestly and with a specific purpose: please, stop the fires.
I have to be honest with you here: since having a baby, I feel like a lot of my own spirituality has been on the back-burner. That isn't the way it should be, and I know it isn't like that for everyone. But for me, I have become very single-minded. Take care of Walt. Survive the day. Try to keep the chaotic mess of my home to a livable minimum. Get some sleep. Repeat. Complain about callings, and extra meetings, and visiting teaching, because it eats into my precious family time. I let the feelings of being completely overwhelmed with life sneak in and make me selfish; jade me from the happiness I used to feel at simple things. Sure, we have FHE for Walt's sake. Read scriptures with Walt each night. Try not to forget family prayer, so Walt can grow up with a good example. But personal study, personal prayer? An afterthought. A small footnote to my fatigue at the end of the day.
I am ashamed to admit that it took something so catastrophic to wake me up. The site of the Alpine fire, just over the mountains from our own home and community jarred something in me, helped me find my voice and again make the time for sincere prayer throughout each day.
I've been part of group fasts and prayers before, but it's been awhile. There is power in numbers, in coming together as a people to accomplish what one alone cannot. There is a feeling that permeates your soul, if you let it. The only way I can think to describe it is mighty.
Thursday, it rained.
I'm not usually one for believing in signs and proclaiming about miracles. But this one - I felt it in my bones. As I sat with my baby sleeping on my lap, my husband's arm around me, looking out the open window and seeing, smelling -- feeling what God had wrought through me and thousands of others, I knew it was a miracle. I thought of the Utah pioneers, and the miracle of the sea gulls, and wondered if they felt the same thing I was feeling now. I believed all over again. The fires haven't completely stopped, but the rain certainly helped. And we'll keep praying, keep trusting that we will all be taken care of. The ones who lost their homes will see their own kind of miracle, even if it isn't what they hoped for. I know that.
The true miracle might not be that everything is better now. The true miracle might be that prayer works. Sometimes we need to know that we are heard. Sometimes Heavenly Father lets us feel his love in literal ways. Sometimes, he lets us feel the power of our prayers in a very individual and personal manner, even when it's part of something so much bigger than us. Maybe that is the miracle.