Reverie on the Third Morning of the Santa Rosa Fires
What is the hot, fast moving, relentless onslaught that is tearing through the fabric of our community? From where did it arise? And how is it that we cannot limit it, cannot put a name to it that allows us to control it with our wits, and finally cannot find the means to put an end to it? It is burning without reason, scattering everything in its path, and surprising even those who thought they were immune to it. What force is propelling this destruction? What force is rampaging in our streets and in our homes, and prying open our hearts to the suffering all around us? Is it any different than the force that took hold of the shooter in Las Vegas, or that took form in the hurricanes from the Gulf?
How much more is there to face in this crucible that has arrived unbidden but stays as if we had laid a welcome mat for it. Indeed, we do not run from it in blind fear. We are naturally fascinated by its power and its endurance. At the same time we respect it and bow down in its presence that it may spare us our lives and our possessions, even though as it rages we know the possessions it destroys are transient symbols of our existence. And still, it cannot touch the inner spirit of our existence. And in that moment when our awareness of the transitory nature of our physical environment is ignited, we begin to slow down and let go of the litany of thoughts that propel us through our daily lives. Things that seemed important yesterday are dwarfed by our immediate need to evaluate our next move, mostly decided in response to the threat that is posed by this immeasurable force.
We continue with our lives, but they are forever changed by the realization that everything can be taken and returned to the vast ocean of existence in the blink of any eye. We observe and reach beyond our “normal” perceptions to try to make sense of what is happening around us. We act in the best interests of ourselves, our neighbors, our animals, our children, at the same time reaching within to contemplate the bigger question of where do I live when everything around me is changing, dying, disappearing. Where do I exist and how can I continue to exist in the face of such devastation?
We reach out to one another and hold each other with love and respect. We become blind to color, social status, and monetary wealth. We begin to see each other as human beings who dwell only temporarily in the realm of the physical. We begin to recognize the spirit of goodness in every act of kindness, bravery, unselfishness and even in the grief over loss that is expressed in the most subtle ways. Tears do not express enough of the deep quaking in one's soul although we find ourselves praying for the moisture of tears that might wipe away the distress and sadness that fills our hearts. In the face of fire, we seek the soothing qualities of water. In these times when even tanks of water cannot save our surroundings, we have to reach deeper and find the waters of the spirit, the deep flowing inner stream that connects us all, that generates all that is, that brings us together to find ways to cooperate in the face of unexplainable happenings.
We are strong. We are resilient. We are able to rise above the tragedy of extreme loss. We weep inside for those that strain to find the inner strength to stand tall; and we weep for those who are strong and realize that letting go in the face of this supernatural force is what we are called to do. We weep inside and outside, if we are fortunate to tap into that well of humanity. There are no easy explanations of how to react. Each one of us must draw upon our inner experience and make sense of our outer reality. It is not a simple task, and there are often no words that can describe the process.
Sometimes in the silence, we touch upon the unspeakable. For each one, that unspeakable is unique; yet we are tied together by the fact that we are all touching the same source of life, even in the midst of death and destruction. We find what is known as faith --- faith in our fellow men, faith in our god, faith in the sun rising and being able to shed its rays without the dimming of the soot-filled atmosphere. And even in the darkness we rise and stay connected to the knowingness that this too shall pass, and there will come a time when we will remember the strength we found when we were forced to live through a very bad dream.
The author Ambika Suzanne Saucy is a resident of Santa Rosa, California, who has studied with Acharya Shunya since 2010.
Learn more about how you can study Vedanta, Yoga and Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her Vedic Spiritual Studies Program.