By Linda T. Hurd
Fire is a good thing and is needed for our survival.
We have many, many guidelines and laws that keep us aware and prepared to keep fire contained and to use it safely.
However, fire can get out of control and cause devastation and lasting damage.
Recovery from fire is a long and challenging process. In buildings, it may be a long time before work can start, because of needed assessments and investigations. Plans are prepared. The building and repair process can be deep with removal of damaged pieces that may have smoke, water, and mold damage. It is done carefully, supporting and protecting the workers and area from further damage or injury.
Work is internal and external. Progress is not consistent or rapid. Periods of good progress are tempered by periods when forward progress comes to a halt. Sometimes repair cannot be seen from the outside. Hope and recovery happen. The building or area will not be the same as it was before, but usefulness and beauty can return.
I see fire and recovery from fire metaphorically. We live and want to be safe. When damage happens—physically or emotionally—we need help. The process of acceptance and recovery can take a long time with pauses and challenges. We may feel despair and pain. Many stages of repair—inside and outside—may be needed. We may be different than before the injury, but can become strong and function well again.
Finding the courage to name a traumatic event in one’s life can be very difficult and take a long time. I think of the trauma and sexual assault victims that have come forward to talk about their experience sometimes after many years. The recovery and healing from such experiences can take a long time with inconsistent progress. I believe my fire paintings are a helpful catalyst for conversations about trauma and recovery. See selected fire paintings.