We were out as a family last night running just the vital errands.

Costco and the toy store, of course.

There inevitably comes a time in our errand running when we hit That Point. Where I turn to trudge down yet another isle in a vain attmept to find that illusive 'super quick' thing I'm looking for, energy depleting fast from trying to wrangle a determined 2 year old who then kicks me in the stomach just one too many times. I turn to find Bill trailing behind me, leaning on Daphne's stroller as he pushes it along, exhausted from his turns with battling the tired and wired Wyatt down isle after endless isle. Our eyes meet, and it's understood. "Have we reached That Point?" I ask, and gratefully, we abandon the rest of our list and head to the check-out.

We left the store with our shiny new copy of Ponyo in hand to a cool early evening and a darkened sky. Signs of rain, I thought, and my spirits lifted.

Then we noticed them. Something was precipitating from the sky. Long black coils of something that were falling ominously slowly all around us.

One of the black things fell on Daphne's blanket. It looked like a burned stick, turned weightless by a fire that had licked it hollow. When I brushed it from the blanket and it crumbled into dust, I realized that's exactly what it was.

"Ash" Bill said beside me, and we looked to the sky. Black and grey ash falling from a sky streaked with pale brown smoke. We followed the trail of brown in the sky with our fingers. There was something about the color of it - the brown rather than black or grey - that filled me with foreboding. It trailed across the sky from mountain to where we couldn't see it beyond the buildings next to us. Others were standing scattered among the cars in the parking lot, silently watching the sky as we were.

It felt like the end of the world.

We had no idea what kind of a fire would cause ash to fall like rain from the sky where no flame was near us. More disturbing yet, there wasn't even a smell of smoke. The world just seemed to be silently burning, falling down all around us. I thought of the burning cities of the scriptures. The three days and nights of endless blackness so deep that no light could penetrate.

"This must have been what it was like during the halocaust," Bill said. I was stricken by the memory of what those ashes meant, and dived to swat a coil of black away before it landed on my daughter who was watching me with a pleasant, interested expression.

As one, Bill and I moved to action. We rushed to the car, dodging the ashes that would land on our children, and hurriedly buckled them into safety. Even though our rational minds knew it was probably nothing, we were both thinking the same thing: What if this was it? The beginning of the end?

"Do we have water in food storage?"
"Well, if we can't make it home at least we just stocked up at Costco"
"How much gas do we have?"

And - even though my rational mind was still trying to convince me that it was nothing - I was suddenly overwhelmingly relieved that we were all together. If the sky was going to fall around us, I wanted my husband and children at arms length.

On the freeway on the way home, we saw where the smoke was coming from. A long line of something burned over by the lake. It was, after all, just a fire. Burning very far away from where it rained ashes down on our heads - but just a fire, nonetheless. I read that evening that some of the vegetation near the lake had caught fire. Nobody was hurt, no buildings were endangered.

For all the foreboding it caused, it turned out to be a rather friendly fire.

My rational mind had a hay-day with that one. SEE? it said. I told you so! And wouldn't stop laughing at me all night.

But the ashes got me thinking. How prepared are we? I mean, Me and my family? If that had been the first stage of a long series of chaos and distruction, would we have been ready? We've talked about it a lot, done things to gather food storage and etc. But are we ready?

And do I really need ashes falling from the sky to ask myself this? Shouldn't the earthquakes in diverse places be enough?

And so I am dedicating the beautiful month of April to this concept: If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.

The month begins with General Conference - what better way to kick off a month dedicated to preparing ourselves for every neeful thing than 2 days filled with the spiritual feasts of inspired counsel from called Apostles and Prophets? Because we don't just need to prepare for disaster physically. We need to also be emotionally and spiritually prepared. Because even if I have complete 72 hour kits and a food storage supply that would make you jealous (why, yes, I did grind the wheat for this delicious bread myself), if I'm not emotionally in control and spiritually at the ready to receive guided counsel, I'm still going to freak out.


Tammy said...

Do you think it is a coincidence that Macey's has their caselot sale in April - the same month as General Conference?

Swanky Mommy said...

We must have just missed you at Costco! We were ALSO at Costco, ALSO had the ash rain down, and ALSO saw the fires--although we saw them on the way there, so maybe you were ahead of us. Great minds think alike :). (I am also excited for GC)