Fires are raging here in Northern California. Although they are not blazing in my town, the air is thick with smoke, the sky is hazy as the sun attempts to peek through. The fires are leveling homes and thousands of acres. What has become of all of the critters dwelled there, both human and animal? What of the lives that were lived for generations on the land? Fire insists that we look at the precariousness of life, at its’ temporary nature. It all comes and goes.
The fires feel metaphorical and they are actually happening. I feel how the smoke is clogging my lungs, how it sticks in my throat. Even with the intensity of what is happening just forty-five minutes away, life goes on. People are driving down the hill headed to work or maybe to assist at one of the shelters that has cropped up. Chaos is upon us. Life has become uncomfortable.
Fire makes it impossible to avoid discomfort. It gets so hot, so very hot that we must move. We cannot stay or we will perish. People are dying. People who were awakened from a sound sleep by sirens or perhaps by smoke and flames. People who ran out of their homes, away from everything they knew and loved, they ran only to be engulfed by flames as they tried to escape in their fuzzy slippers or bare feet.
Let us imagine how this might feel. How would it be to run for your life as you sensed the cold hardness of the blacktop pressing into the soles of your feet, flames lapping at you from behind as though you were being chased by dragons? The terror, the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you made a valiant effort to flee to safety.
These are the perils of our world. Stories of saint-like beings who founded yoga centers or worked at churches losing their homes. Ancestral relics being burned to cinders. Tales pouring in of people we know who have lost everything. It’s closer than close. The fires continue to consume everything in their path even as courageous teams of emergency responders work tirelessly to contain them.
How is it possible that we continue to worry about minutia like when to get our haircut, or whether or not to buy that new pair of boots this winter, or whether we can wrangle a weekend trip to go mountain biking? These things become insignificant in the face of fires and the quaking of the earth. Events of epic proportions are happening in our midst.
Will we let them motivate us to turn toward what is most essential? The alarm is sounding. There is no time to waste.
Let us not be self-deprecating or judgmental of others, let us banish our inner critics to the far reaches of the galaxy with a firm, yet kind hand. Let us be agents of love, compassion and generosity. Let us be instruments of movement. Let us reach out to those in need, open our hearts, wallets, and homes. Let us take a stand for what it is that really matters to us. Let us not be distracted or engage in trivialities.
Let us not squander these precious moments. The fires are burning. They point us to the impermanence of all things.
Thank you for reading this post and for sending love and prayers out to the people of Northern California who have been most deeply impacted by the fires.
If you are so moved to open your wallets to make a donation, the Redwood Credit Union has established a North Bay Fire Relief Fund - 100% of donations go to fire victims: https://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief.