..... I got out of our van to ask if it was over, since they were allowed to get their things.
“Not exactly…” One of them replied. “The fourth floor is completely filled with smoke and the air is unbreatheable.” (I did not think to ask him how he knew this.)
“You mean there really is a fire!?” I responded.
The young man nodded. “Yep. Apparently a waste basket caught fire…”
“So some idiot threw away a cigarette they thought they put out correctly, and hadn’t?” I said.
“Exactly.” (Again, I did not think to ask how the young men new any of this.)
They drove away, and we climbed in our van and waited another half hour or so before we were let in. Yes. We were all able to return to our rooms. Whether we could sleep was another story. God was looking out for all of us, though. Only two rooms were unusable, and those were on the fourth floor. The hotel desk clerk was making arrangements for the couples who occupied to sleep in other rooms while I waited behind them to ask her for some Ibuprofen. So no one was injured during the fire. (I do feel bad for them that they most likely lost some property, but considering this was a HOTEL FIRE, everyone getting out safely and only two rooms being ultimately affected are blessings.)
I’m sure you never saw a friendlier bunch of strangers eating in the breakfast room of a hotel. Few people were able to go back to sleep, and we were all early for our continental breakfast at 7 am. We discussed whether the fire was set on purpose (I insisted that everyone makes stupid mistakes at one time or another, and that this was someone’s stupid mistake. So yes, the culprit lives, and I am typing this from the comfort of my own swivel chair at home.)
We all discussed religion and politics like old friends, good naturedly giving each other permission to be wrong. We had been through a fire together. Even though most of us didn't need to deal with the actual fire and smoke, we shared in the evacuation, and the shock of finding out it was all real. While we won’t be holding any reunions, we were bound together in happiness and gratitude that every person who had been in the building was accounted for and fine. We didn’t exactly hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”, but we shared an intangible bond that I’d never shared with anyone I just met on the spot in my life. And I forgave Bob for spending and extra thirty bucks to reserve a room on the nonsmoking floor, which was directly below the floor where the garbage can caught fire.
And, just when you thought I'd milked this fire for all it was worth....
All of us have been through "fire", but not necessarily of the literal kind. When my mom died, I was going through a metaphorical fire of sorts, but had the camaraderie of cyber friends and Church friends, and most importantly, their prayers, to help me through. These people CHOSE to walk through the fire and smoke with me, and I thank them.
My gratitude for these individuals got me to thinking how I wish others who hurt had the same support available to them. I know most of my Church friends through being involved in my Church with CCD, Respect Life, ICF, etc. But what about people who aren't involved? What about people who just need prayer, and someone to walk through the fire with them? I and couple of friends decided that we need a women's prayer ministry to meet this need. (We are starting with women only right now because frankly, those of us starting this are women, and feel we can better minister to women than to both at this time. How this grows and whether it does depends on the Holy Spirit.)
Tomorrow is the first day for this prayer meeting. Actually, it is a prayer meeting / organizational meeting. I'd really appreciate your prayers for the start of this ministry.
Thank you for walking through the fire with me, and encouraging me and giving me the strength to want to reach out and do the same for others. God bless you.