Dear California: Day 1 of 1

Scorched Earth

By Rev. Amanda Gayle Reed

  "My teaching will fall like raindrops;
    my speech will settle like dew—
        like gentle rains on grass,
        like spring showers on all that is green—"

-Deuteronomy 32:2 (CEB)

I had only been in Idaho a few days when I saw the lightning strike in the distance. The fire it ignited would burn tens of thousands of acres. I marveled as I drove by “the burn” and saw the earth itself scorched black. The dry desert grasses and sage brushes had been burned away, the soil itself bearing witness to the fire which had rushed through.

A couple weeks later another fire. And then another.

Southern Idaho wasn’t hit as hard as the upper Northwest, though, so we were all thanking our lucky stars. But the truth is, this summer has been devastating in West. Wildfires have decimated millions of acres of land. Fire-fighters have exhausted their resources trying to fight the fires, save homes and property and farms.

As the summer progressed, the number of burn zones I would pass on my way over to Twin Falls (Starbucks, you know…) seemed to increase and I would often think about the term “scorched earth”.

But day after day, week after week, the presence of the blackened desert became so commonplace that I just stopped noticing them.

That is, I stopped noticing them until one day last week when a hint of green in the midst of the black rocks and soil grabbed my attention.

I glanced to the right too late to actually see what had flashed by me. I assumed it must’ve been an unburned section of the desert I had noticed.

But then I saw it–a tiny little tuft of green poking up through the charcoaled soil. And then another. And another.

Here was a whole patch of it and out there was a vast expanse of it.

Now that I knew what I was looking for I could see that the whole desert around me was slowly sprouting back to life.

About The Author

Rev. Amanda Gayle Reed is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She is a member of the West Virginia Conference currently serving a congregation in Gooding Idaho.  Rev. Reed is a graduate of West Virginia State University (Institute, WV) and the Iliff School of Theology (Denver, Co) and frequently writes at