A lot has changed for me since my last blog. The Thomas fire in Ventura, California was born on December 4, and still rages through the mountains and valleys with only 15% containment as I write this one week later. In Malibu, where I live in a tiny cottage on a horse ranch, we remain on high alert, prepared for evacuation on a moment’s notice given the tinder-dry conditions and fierce Santa Ana winds.
There are half a dozen other fires burning in the surrounding areas and counties, but having worked at the Ojai Valley Inn for the past five years, I am most affected by what’s happening in the Ventura fire. Clients, co-workers, and friends are evacuating two or more times as the fire continues to expand in the areas they flee to. My job there provides a large source of income and was abruptly and indefinitely halted during the most lucrative time of year for my work. Stores and streets normally bustling this time of year are strangely barren. And as all disasters force us to do, we are confronting death and loss square in the eyes.
Synchronicity is always at work, but at times like these it’s more pronounced, along with our intuitive, instinctual knowing. Signs and signals appear in order to lead us through and guide our choices. The demand for instant prioritization is accompanied by the immediate and forceful stripping of attachment to everything except life force energy. Death does that. As the beautiful forms of Earth life die, as humans and animals die, we are transformed inwardly and outwardly.
This is the nature of life, though we often turn it into suffering through our denial, resistance, and lack of training. The investment we have made in building upon our illusions of safety and compelling desire to control that which is uncontrollable, can understandably render us helpless in times like these. But the falling away of those illusions can reveal the honorable and courageous stewards of life we are meant to be, and infinite possibilities are born of our unity and compassion.
The cover of the November issue of Lion’s Roar, a Buddhist magazine, boldly states: “Death – The Greatest Teacher – Why awareness of death is the secret of life”, and a telling line in one of the articles explains, “To put it simply, impermanence is the Buddha”.
I’m comforted when I read Buddhist wisdom because my soul resonates with its truth and the rest of me comes into alignment. It speaks to what we need to learn about in order to be in harmony with our existence, environment, and one another: the nature of life. Birth, death, regeneration, and the cyclical nature of life… all hold the keys to our understanding and the journey of acceptance.
In the experience of this fire, I witnessed the aspect of myself that immediately wanted to cling to thoughts of loss and victimhood, and I witnessed the part of me that paused to ask Spirit what this was about, and heard the reply, “opportunities”. I witnessed the part of me that feared for my livelihood, and the part of me that remained curious about what could happen. I recognized greater patience and wisdom in waiting for clarity, and greater trust in my Source and inter-connectedness.
Whatever we are in the midst of, is our teacher and our friend. Training to accept the nature of life and cultivate our inherent strengths, capability, and resiliency is an investment that is never too late to begin and always leads to a greater demonstration of higher truth, creation, and well-being for oneself and for all.
While I wait to resume my work at the Ojai Valley Inn and offer my services to those affected by the fires, I am gratefully accepting donations of support. If you are moved to contribute, you can use the button at the bottom of the page. Thank you to everyone for connecting through this blog, supporting me so generously, and being just who you are.
Approaching the year’s end in, perhaps, unexpected ways – I wish you miraculous blessings of peace, health, provision and love, and look forward to sharing more as we enter the beginning of a New Year; a new cycle of growth and adventure, together.