Today I sit and wonder what is going on in this world, as healers and heroes are being murdered in cold blood? What does it mean about humanity when innocent people are killed while they are pursuing their education? What is happening here on our planet when we as a people are living with such avid disregard for our resources, for one another, and for the very ground on which we walk?
I contemplate these questions on a beautiful day here in the Bay Area, on a day where the air is cool and fresh, the sun is shining, the sky is a clear cerulean blue and there are young children playing and laughing outside my office window. By all accounts things appear to be fine; it’s a great day to be alive.
While receiving all of this beauty I am struck by the insanity that is raging in the world; the craziness that gives rise to a murder in this small town of Fairfax, California. How did it come to pass that a loving, kind-hearted man named Steve Carter, a man who devoted his life to healing, to fostering true intimacy between couples, was shot to death while hiking in the woods with his Doberman Pinscher just a mile from my home?
I recognize how beauty and chaos are in this very moment colliding. This is a moment where juxtaposed forces are meeting and the impact is shaking me to the core.
This is a wake up call, an invitation, not solely for me; an invitation for each one of us. This is a call to action, a call to engage, to evaluate what is needed, to respond with the intelligence and kindness that comes from an open heart. It’s a call to take a stand, to get up off of the proverbial bench on the sidelines and participate.
As I consider the fact that a homicide was committed in our little hamlet, a place people move to because it’s a beautiful, friendly, safe environment in which to raise children, I find myself rather perplexed. Fairfax is the kind of place where people smile and make eye contact with one another as they pass on the street. It’s the kind of place where you can strike up a conversation with a stranger in the post office and feel like you’ve had a true connection. Nonetheless, a violent crime was committed here.
Fairfax is a conscious and observant community in which the local merchants and residents actually noticed three young strangers who were clearly unwell, who some called “sketchy” or “really off.” I wonder what might have been done differently to prevent the killing of an innocent man and the wounding of his dog on a beautiful autumnal evening?
In light of this event I am left feeling less safe here in my town. I am noticing since this occurred I am more apt to look over my shoulder and double check that the door is locked after entering my home. Now that the perpetrators have been caught I am beginning to relax. My nervous system is unwinding; I sense the tension in my shoulders softening as I exhale.
It’s hard to ignore that there has been a loss of innocence in Fairfax. This horrific event has reinforced the reality that anything can happen to anyone, at any time. Chaos and tragedy do not discriminate; everyone is fair game and all we are left with is our response to what arises.
It’s as if there is now a gash in the tapestry of our town — a tapestry woven over time with care by the residents who have lived here for many, many years. We live with a palpable sense of community here in Fairfax and right now we have been tenderized by the shattering of our apparently safe container. We are each nursing our wounds and tending the badly bruised container of this place we call home.
Now we have an inkling of what it feels like for those who live in Oakland, San Francisco and so many places throughout the world, where brutality is a part of walking down the street; where drive-by shootings happen regularly and gang violence is simply “part of the deal.”
The medicine of this tragedy is a call to engage deeper, to reach within and to offer up the fruits of our practices and prayers. Each of us has an opportunity to be present and available as we meet this heart-wrenching moment where a beautiful soul was lost and the sanctity of our town was tarnished. This is an invitation to respond with love, determination and a commitment to heal. It’s a chance to take a stand for life.
This tragedy has the potential to catalyze us into our next level of living fully, of participating regardless of whether we feel like it or not, and of showing up even when we are afraid. The challenge is to open up to the level of brutality that we as humans are capable of inflicting on one another. When we pick up the gauntlet we are rising up as agents of peace, love and sanity in our world. This is a watershed moment when we can either contract in fear, battening down the hatches as we cast furtive glances over our shoulders, or we can show up.
When we take a stand for life we become ambassadors for goodness, joining together to foster positive change in the world. Life is beckoning us to step in and take our place as Earth Angels.