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Smoke But No Fire

August 21, 2020

The weather was terrible today. Sure, it’s been hot, but today was different. Today, our normally beautiful valley was shrouded. It’s about 20 miles from one side of the valley to the other. Much of that area is occupied by Utah Lake. It’s the largest non-dam controlled lake in the Western United States.

The Wasatch mountains are on the Eastern side of the valley. The Oquirrh Mountains are to the West. (Pronounced ‘OAK-er’) Today, it was impossible to see past the lake shore. It might have even been pretty if it weren’t, well, so ugly.

It’s smoke. Wildfire smoke. But, it’s not from a Utah fire. We’ve had a few this year. But, this was a lot bigger than our little 50 acre Battle Creek fire from last week. The fires were also not from the state next to us, Nevada. Instead they are coming from California, over 600 miles away.

The Southeast United States, Florida, Georgia area had a dust storm earlier this year. The dust wasn’t from the US, or even the Caribbean. Instead the dust had travelled 4,000 miles from Western Africa.

On May 18, 1980 a mountain in Southwest Washington exploded. Mount Saint Helens sent a plume of ash 15 miles into the air. I lived just a few hundred miles North of Mt Saint Helens. I remember watching the eruption from our front porch. It was a Sunday morning. The ash was over a foot deep in Eastern Washington. The ash eventually landed on our cars in Olympia, Washington. But, not 15 inches. In fact, not even an inch. Instead it was just a dusting. The ash didn’t reach our town until it had travelled around the world, 20,000 miles.

When we look around ourselves we see challenges and opportunities. The smoke, the dust, the ash are the challenges. They obscure our vision of the opportunities. They keep us from seeing the lake or the mountains clearly. And they often are not even a result of our own circumstances.

COVID is a challenge. But, not one of us was connected with the start of it.

And you and I each have our own challenges. Maybe it’s a family situation. Maybe it’s loss of a job. Maybe it’s a health crisis.

The point is that the causes might be thousands of miles away, but they keep us from taking advantage of the opportunities that exist right across the valley, if we could only see them clearly.

The thing is, I know the Oquirrh Mountains are just across the valley even if I cannot see them. And I know if I start heading west, despite the smoke, if I set my compass and head that direction, eventually, I’ll reach the goal.

Just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Sometimes you have to walk by faith.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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