Dauphin, MB – After her home, along with many others, was destroyed in a neighbourhood fire last year, local woman Rebecca Sikes told herself that she never wanted to see another fire as long as she lived. But now, almost exactly one year later, Sikes finds herself face-to-face with the very flames that burned down her home.
“I was angry for a long time,” said Sikes, brushing off the burnt bits of her sweater after an emotional embrace. “But I kept hearing about how this fire had been trying to change it’s ways and had started seeing a therapist, and, well, it’s hard to ignore that.”
Rebecca’s story is only one of many, as community workers in the area try to connect embittered former homeowners with volatile balls of heat and light as a form of reconciliation and catharsis.
“Most of these flames were new to the world, kids who had no idea what they were doing; ‘wildfires,’ if you will,” said case worker Jason Mann. “Now they’re mature flames that want to repay their debt to society and rid themselves of this horrible guilt.”
Even with this information in hand, Sikes reports that at first she still had a hard time with the idea of forgiving the physical result of a combusting fuel source.
“It was all well and good to hear about the fire’s progress, but I had to see it myself,” said Sikes. “So Mr. Mann gave me an address, and that’s where I found that fire helping to rebuild a school. Laying bricks, mixing cement, pitching in like a real member of the community.”
“When I saw how much it had changed, well, I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much.”
Truly an amazing story. Maybe we can all take a lesson from Rebecca’s story and forgive the fires, heavy rainwater, landslide rubble, and roving gangs of bears in our own lives.