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The Power of Prayer and the Wildfire in Southern California
Since August 26, southern California has been ablaze with a wildfire that for several days was coming dangerously close to the city of Los Angeles. Wildfire is one of the most destructive natural forces, and, unfortunately, conditions are good for fires in southern California, with its dry climate and forested canyons.

By the last weekend of August, low humidity and lack of rain were hampering efforts to check the fire, and the size of the wildfire
 
had jumped rapidly from 45,000 acres to 100,000 acres, destroying more than 70 homes and causing two firefighter fatalities. Plumes of thick smoke spiraled into the air up to 20,000 feet, creating the fire's own wind patterns, and making planners' efforts to stop the fire even more difficult.
That weekend, the fire started to affect the area around the Pasadena Sukyo Mahikari center. Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, well-known for the Rose Bowl and the Tournament of Roses parade and also home to the California Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and many major cultural institutions. The Pasadena Sukyo Mahikari center is located just north of Pasadena in the city of Altadena, on the southern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains.
On Saturday, August 29, the members at the Pasadena center could see the fire from the front door. The photo with this article shows the view looking outward from the front of the Pasadena center. Smoke is seen billowing over the stores near the center and the mountain to the north. It's hard to see, but there are flames at the crest of the mountain. The fire was actually closer, but the view was obstructed by the hardware store.
The Pasadena members reflected and realized what a delicate balance there is between the urban nature of Los Angeles and nature, especially reflecting on the rate at which people have been exploiting and even abusing nature. We started offering a prayer every hour on the hour.
By mid-afternoon, we were becoming more concerned. We could actually see the flames over the ridge. If the fire jumped over the ridge, and if there was any wind blowing southward, we were thinking it could be a matter of minutes before it reached us. At that time, there wasn't any wind, just smoke, but with the unpredictability being reported on the news about the way this fire moved, we were concerned. We decided to call regional headquarters and let them know.
Sukyo Mahikari regional headquarters is in Rancho Santa Margarita, an hour south of Los Angeles, and that weekend, the 30th North American Region intermediate course was being held. There were 37 candidates listening to the lectures by Dr. Andris Tebecis of the Australia-Oceania Region (no stranger to wildfires) and preparing to elevate their Omitama. Also participating were more than 100 reattending members and numerous Sukyo Mahikari staff, including our center director.
At the start of the afternoon break of the intermediate course, our center director announced to the intermediate course participants that news had come that the fires were close to the Pasadena center. He asked if everyone participating in the intermediate course would join him in offering a prayer in front of the headquarters altar. Immediately, all participants put their hands together and, with heads bowed before God, offered a heartfelt prayer and the Amatsu Norigoto prayer. We said another prayer at the center at the same time.
What happened next was amazing. When we went outside in Pasadena, we discovered that the wind had kicked up and started pushing up the mountain, toward the origin of the fire, and away from cities and towns.
We realized how powerful that prayer was, because it was literally a minute after they had made the prayer at regional headquarters that everything changed.
Six days later, September 5, just as we were writing this article, the national news media are reporting that, while the fire continues to burn, the western side of the deadly wildfire north of Los Angeles is under control, sparing foothill communities further threat as it burns east into a large wilderness area.
We are so very grateful for God's protection and the heart of love of our fellow members. Thank you.
This all made us realize that the fire was God's arrangement to make us wake up spiritually. We often take our lives, the environment, and all the material resources we depend on for granted. We resolve to remember to have gratitude for our food and water, and for clean air and for our homes. The experience helped us put things into perspective and not be so attached to our own problems and the things we find to complain about. Now we appreciate more deeply how truly precious our center is, and we have resolved to be more serious about our practice.


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