Like black, withering hands reaching out, only to snag blood-red skies and billows of smoke. This has been the imagery of Gatlinburg following the four months of drought this year. Spectators watch helplessly in suspense as death tolls rise to 14, with more identities yet to be confirmed; those who have been confirmed are forced into a future of temporary homelessness as they seek public shelter. Though investigators "suspect..[the] fire to be 'human-caused," park officials attribute the disaster---at least in part---to the insufficiency of recent rains in subduing the violent blazes altogether.
Recently, three brothers were found unconscious; they were hospitalized and nursed to consciousness only to awake to find that their parents at the Chalet in Knoxville had died. As in the case of all miseries, however, good has nonetheless surfaced in the form of humanitarian outreach. The horrific event is rousing people from surrounding areas to give in various ways. Some are offering to send food to families; others, like Dolly Parton, is offering money and urging others to join her fund. Parton wrote disclosed in a statement: "As you may know by now, there have been terrible wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home...we wanted to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fire." This grant, deemed the My People Fund, imparts $1,000 to every person who lost his or her home from the fires for six months consecutively. If you are interested in donating, feel free to peruse the link more.
In addition, a surprise note found by a nearby Dollywood employee is regarded an eerie director to a divine cause. The worker spied the a single page of Scripture from the book of Joel underneath a park bench. The page was scorched, but the print legible enough, revealing the entire passage:
"To You, O Lord, I cry; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field. Even the beasts of the field pant for You; for the water brooks are dried up and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness."
Whether this finding is determined coincidence or divine revelation, what can be relied on is the fact that there is a sovereign will orchestrating every event---and human responsibility summoned. May we be found not wanting in whatever capacity He leads our actions. Updates regarding the Gatlinburg fires are continued; and public admission has been delayed from the estimated Wednesday to Friday.