(Written August 4, 2015)
My voice is scratchy and unpredictable. There are reasons of course. Stress, grief, smoke, exhaustion, some unidentified virus BUT deep down I feel like I am in limbo—we are all in limbo. We have been exiled from our Holden home and the family that makes Holden a home for many of us.
I carried only a small backpack when I walked toward the helicopter that would evacuate us on Saturday evening (August 1). We (the Left Behind group) had done what we could, with the time that we had. Our leaders discerned what needed to happen next with the Forest Service and others worked on protecting the Village by closing windows and doors, engaging the sprinklers, removing fuel from porches, etc. When I left my room for the last time I stopped to scan my little “monastic cave” in Chalet 3. It was filled with memories of my life at Holden. I felt sad and wondered if I would see this space again. I looked out my window facing east one more time and there right in front of my window was a perfect rainbow (thanks to the sprinkler system). I watched for a moment to see if it would fade but it didn’t.
I needed some hope so I chose to let that rainbow be my reminder of God’s deep presence and deep love no matter what. I lingered awhile and breathed in that moment. Then I picked up my backpack, took it to the bus that later would take us to the helicopter pad and got back to work.
I left behind some important things: passport, computer password sheet, oil of oregano, Neti pot, swimsuit etc. I have imagined going back for those things because maybe if I had a few of those things I would feel better. But, guess what? It’s not those things that would make this easier. It’s knowing that I am away from all of you, that we can’t chat during dinner, or share hashtags before Vespers, or attend to our goodbyes and hellos at 10:30 AM. I can’t check in on the fish in the school and make sure they are fed. I can’t spend time listening and laughing with you, getting and receiving hugs, singing, praying with you… and did I mention laughing with you?
I know we can connect with each other via Facebook and phone calls. That connection is so helpful and helps me experience how deep and wide the Holden community is. The physical place of Holden brought us all together but we are so much more than the physical space of Railroad Creek Valley. So as we all wait and hope and remember, let us also open ourselves to the knowledge that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not even the Wolverine Creek Fire and how it will change the physical place call Holden Village. We are all held in a deep, surprising, transformative, and courageous LOVE.
Tonight, I will visualize us all surrounded and held up by that love, and hum:
Deep Peace of the running wave. Deep Peace of the flowing air. Deep peace of the shining stars to you. Deep Peace of the quiet earth.
Deep Peace to you all!