The residual effects of the Ferguson Fire were readily apparent during the Deacon’s Retreat at our ECCO Conference Center in Oakhurst last week. The scent of fire in the air, the light covering of ash on the cars, and the lack of traffic on Route 140 spoke volumes.
During one of our Eucharist gatherings a hymn was generated by the sound of one of the heavy-lift helicopters used for firefighting, a Sikorsky S-64 Flying Crane, which made repeated passes over ECCO on its way to refill its 2,650 gallon water tank.
Having started my career in the aviation industry, I stopped to think about the founder of Sikorsky Aircraft Company, Igor Sikorsky. Mr. Sikorsky was a refugee fleeing for his life and coming to this country in 1919 from his home in Russia. He came from a different culture, spoke a heavily accented English, but had a dream and a work ethic that led to his invention of the helicopter.
I thought of how many lives have been changed, or saved, by the successive iterations of his invention, from battlefields like Korea and Southeast Asia, to medical evacuations and firefighting today. I prayed for the brave men and women who fly these vehicles and maintain them. I wondered what this world would be like without the chance given to this foreign refugee.
In my mind the hymn of the helicopter resounded: “Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.”
Greg Masztal, St. Paul’s, Modesto