Today, huge forest fires in Canada, California, Turkey, Australia, Morocco, Greece and even Siberia dominate the news as hotter, drier temperatures turn living trees into kindling. In Israel, the hill country to the West, of Jerusalem went up in flames due to 3 arson attacks mid-August. One of the largest wildfires in Israel’s history ripped through the area of 10 villages, which had to be evacuated. 6,200 acres of woodlands went up in smoke in these hills. Homes were lost along with a harp workshop. An estimated 10,000 laying hens perished when their coop caught fire. It took some 1,500 firefighters from Israel, Greece, Italy and France worked nonstop for 52 hours before finally putting out the various blazes. Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem was threatened.
Pine, cypress, eucalyptus, oak, pistachio, carob and other vegetation grow here, along with grapevines, olive and fig trees planted on agricultural terraces first built 1,000 years ago. Birds and large wild animals, such as deer, escaped their burning habitat to surrounding forests. Smaller creatures, were lost.
Photo: Fire Refugees by Mark Hobson 1989.
Please let this painting speak to you. Studying it never fails to move me. The first time I encountered a forest fire was in 1945 in the Disney movie Bambi. I think it is in us all to have strong emphatic feelings for the suffering of helpless animals destroyed by the negligence of man. This and the destruction on the forests, leaves me with a profound sense of loss. The beauty and hope I see here is that in time, forests do regenerate, and the natural species return.
But today, the scene is painful. Smoke lingers in the air, waiting to be washed away by winter rains. Israel’s first woman forester Nurit Hibsher said, “even the ashes blanketing the forest floor can be beneficial in the process of mineralization and regeneration over the next five years, but it will take 20 to 30 years to see tall trees here again. Sights like this are becoming frighteningly common around the world. In previous decades when fires were few and far between, meant forests had time toregrow before the next blaze. With climate change the period between fires is getting shorter.”
Israel also suffers fire terrorism, particularly the Gaza border communities. They remain under frequent attack from one end of the year to the other. Hamas sends incendiary balloons and kites, which systematically destroy crops and domestic and wild animals!
Our friends and neighbors Shoshanna and Micah Harrari watched helplessly as their harp workshop went up in flames. She writes:
“No, none of the harps were able to be saved, except my own personal one, because it was at home and not in our work shop. I imagine that as they went up in flames, their last sounds were melodies of peace and healing lifted heavenward on the wings of the flames. Perhaps they played out of pain of nations and peoples of the world suffering through their own fires of affliction. They were a “corban”, a sacrifice, and I hope they carried a blessing as they left this world for Gan Eden to join the heavenly orchestras of the angels.”
Photo: Micah and Shoshanna Harrari, creators of Harrari Harps
I was touched deeply by Shoshanna’s insight and inquired; “LORD, why was their workshop lost?” The answer came swiftly:
“From this place of craftsmanship, I received praise and worship through the work of dedicated hearts and hands. The ‘enemy’ that ‘bent one’, hates the sound of the harp and tried to stop it. But, watch what I shall do in the future. Worship to me shall break forth from all quarters, for these Hills of Benjamin will come alive with worship. What the enemy meant for evil, watch Me turn it for good.”
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Dr. Meridel Rawlings, Box 84156, Mevasseret Zion, 9079097 Israel.
For Meridel’s latest book called “Stain Remover” Click here to buy the book on Amazon.