Another Prayer for Paradise: Skip Culton Story

National Headquarters  |  February 27, 2019

You might think my story is very similar to that of other Camp Fire victims. Here is a song about my town Paradise before you read my story and learn what happened to me:

“Now I look around and said
Man I can’t believe this
There’re millions of unknowns
As my heart began to sink”

I feel as if a part of me was lost in the fire.

I lost almost everything.

Those little things my grandfather made and gave to me. Those irreplaceable photos of my family. Those pictures my daughter drew that hung on the refrigerator.

My artwork, those pieces that I painted and drew, and those I wrote over the past 20 years. My lyric books with 20 years of my poetry, and the 20 years of recordings that I’ve made. My music equipment and my recording studio.

They are all gone. In terms of material items, that’s the hardest for me.

“Paradise, you were everything to me
Paradise, the wind singing through your trees
Paradise, where my heart will always be
I will always be home in Paradise”

I had everything here, in Paradise.

This is my community where I actually grew up, and where I’ve lived and worked for more than 20 years. My roots are here. I was home here in Paradise until the fire burned down my house and turned it all into ashes.

“The aftermath is more than we imagined
So was the help we got from those who care
When I look around at this town that’s now abandoned
All I know is I can’t wait to get back there”

On the morning of the first, we saw a glow in the sky over Paradise.

It felt so surreal when I came back to Paradise. I found nothing left but layers and layers of ashes and dust.

There was nothing left for me there in that abandoned place called Paradise.

However, I kind of feel as if I gain something when I receive clothes, money, care and love from people I know, and from others who I don’t know.

“Cause every time I wear those clothes you gave to me
I learned a little more about myself and life’s mysteries
When I close my eyes and rest my head at night
I say another prayer for Paradise”

Two days after the fire, I was walking around a shopping mall parking lot in Chico, California, and I noticed the donated clean, used clothes and many other items that the local church had gathered filling the lot. I got a cart and filled it with items including a bicycle that I want to give to my son who loves to ride. I piled the bike onto a bunch of clothes I took for my son and daughter. With winter already here, I continued to look for clothes for myself.

Two strangers who were Asian came over to me and asked me what I was doing here. That is how I first was introduced to Tzu Chi, the Buddhist foundation.

Then two weeks later, I walked into Tzu Chi’s relief station, the Chico Disaster Recovery Center, and received a cash card worth $500 for my family to use.

I was so surprised and touched by Tzu Chi volunteers. It seems they really feel and understand the loss and the pain the victims have been suffering from, even though those volunteers were not physically affected by the tragedy themselves. I am so grateful for and appreciative of the cash card, and more than that, I am grateful to Tzu Chi for their selfless giving and heartwarming compassion.

I grabbed my guitar, which is the only thing I took with me when I left Paradise on the day of the fire, and I sang the song for all Tzu Chi volunteers. It is the song I wrote for myself and my home, called “Another Prayer for Paradise.”

With all that has happened, there is so much going on inside my head, including my sadness, my gratitude, and my speechless mixed emotions. I find that praying and writing songs are ways to help me find healing and hope so that I can recover. That’s how and why “Another Prayer for Paradise” came to me and was written within 20 minutes on the Saturday morning after the fire.

“Oh, you will never be alone in Paradise
Oh, let’s say another prayer for Paradise”

When I heard other people say that they were leaving Paradise, my initial response was that I have to stay.

It was as if God gave me a calling to stay in the town of Paradise.

If God listened to my prayer and did not abandon me in the fire, then I should not abandon my Paradise. I should not let Paradise stand alone in the dust and ashes.

I feel that I must go back. Yet, I don’t know how long it will take for us to go back to Paradise. Will it take months, or years? Will we ever know the answer?

So, this is why I pray for Paradise every day.


I believe that God has been working through me in his way so that I may help my community. It is very important that I help my community and give back. Through my song and my work I can help heal and bring hope wherever I can.

So, that is my story, one that is very similar to that of other Paradise victims.

My song about Paradise is one that is complete and one that you can share with others.


“Another Prayer in Paradise”
By Skip Culton

Now I look around and say
Man I can’t believe this
There’re millions of unknowns
As my heart began to sink

Paradise, you were everything to me
Paradise, the wind singing through your trees
Paradise, where my heart will always be
I always will be home in Paradise

The aftermath is more than we imagined
So was the help we got from those who care
When I look around at this town that’s now abandoned
All I know is I can’t wait to get back there

‘Cause every time I wear those clothes you gave to me
I learned a little more about myself and life’s mysteries
When I close my eyes and rest my head at night
I say another prayer for Paradise

Paradise, you were everything to me
Paradise, the wind singing through your trees
Paradise, where my heart will always be
I always will be home in Paradise

Oh, you will never be alone in Paradise
Oh, let’s say another prayer for Paradise

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