Well, what a strange sensation to see your name in print (“Hell Fire,” Oct. 11). I want to compliment editor Stett Holbrook for his compassionate and friendly tone when stopping to interview me Monday.
It is starting to really settle in just how truly devastating the loss is now. We will never be the same, not my neighbors’ lives, not my little pocket neighborhood in ashes near Coffey Park’s own devastation wrought wide, not nearly all of northwest Santa Rosa or Fountaingrove, and surely not Mark West/Larkfield, where so many of my former beloved students and their families lived, and perhaps not the entire greater community.
Take deep breaths once we can breathe again, cherish what we still have, and find the will to move forward to whatever changed future awaits us.
The tragedies besetting our beloved communities this week bring us to the edge of what was previously unthinkable. Our hearts keen for those who’ve lost everything. Our minds grapple with how and why these simultaneously ignited holocaustic events could unfold on our places of home/ground/place so readily, so swiftly, so adeptly. Firepower claimed our hillsides, our homes, our beloved friends, neighbors, colleagues and plant communities and wildlife. We stand shaken, broken and united in the face of our own fragility, our own impermanence.
Just one week ago, all was well in our world, and overnight we make this radical shift in our way of life—as if a bomb struck our very wellbeing. Indeed, I imagine war is like this. Scores of evacuees are still clamoring for a shower, a bed, a meal, a warm hug, the smallest of signs of a “normal” day. The things, the people, the services we have such easy access to in “normal” times become our primary quest. Our comforts and conveniences and our status quo has been shaken to its foundations.
I am struck by the parallels that exist between evacuees and refugees. At what point does an evacuee become a refugee? Is it when the wind keeps driving and no containment is possible ever? Is it when there is no community left to bring services such as temporary housing, shelter, drinking water, sewer systems, medical services, food? Is the distinction that evacuees can have some semblance of hope that returning to the community is possible, even if the time/ground/place is different?
Today, I’m sending billowing bubbles of love out to all who are displaced by this tragedy in Northern California, and the tragedies in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. And I’m including those who are displaced by the wars initiated by our country. And I’m reminded that we cannot cause displacement and reject with closed arms the same refugees we have made through acts of war. Evacuees and refugees, we see you, we feel you, and engage our governments to do right by you. We know you need refuge. We all need refuge.
All affected by the wildfires are in our thoughts and prayers. Sonoma County, please pray the little prayer every day, and for those who know how, the Holy Rosary as well.
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