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At a prayer chapel on top of a hillside in Redding, California, I sat on the grass overlooking the city just one year after a raging fire swept through, destroying everything in its path. The Carr Fire jumped the Sacramento River, blew through three counties, and took more than a month to contain. Over a thousand structures were destroyed. The fire started as a spark from a tire rim hitting pavement. The flames were carried by the wind with no regard for the lives they damaged and destroyed. Although much of the land is green again, I could still see charred hills from my seat on the grass. The once lush hills were black, and the homes being rebuilt will not be the same. After devastating fires, residents often move away, leaving everything behind.

Just moments before finding that chapel on the hill, I was hit with the remnants of gossip in a most painful way. I crossed paths with a former friend who now sees me through the lens of gossip. Stories from the past had swept through our small community, leaving bitterness to smolder in those who listened. Just enough truth was mixed into the lies to make the rumors seem plausible. Like the wildfire, the first spark of gossip can be like metal hitting asphalt. Something sparks in a relationship, a misunderstanding or disagreement. The person who openly laments their injury leaves behind a wisp of smoke.  The smoke, fanned into flame, destroys relationships, erodes communities. Sadly, the church isn’t immune any more than schools or the workplace.

Read the rest at The Glorious Table.