Just a few weeks ago, in the early hours of October 9th, some of us started looking around our homes and stepping outside because we were smelling smoke. We were met with ashes raining down in 50 – 60 mph winds. In other parts of our beloved Sonoma and Napa Counties some of us were being awakened by frantic knocks on the door and bullhorns screaming “Evacute now.” As doors were opened, raging 20-30 foot flames were bearing down on them, their homes, businesses and communities. With no time to waste, frantic choices had to be made about pets, neighbors and what should be gathered as people ran for their lives. Inhaling toxic smoke, hearing the sounds and smells of exploding gas lines and propane tanks and flames traveling at 230 feet per second, our friends, neighbors, and family members fled into the night and into a community that soon would embrace them with food, shelter, financial and emotional support and open arms as they faced the unknown.
A little over 2 weeks now, with containment still not 100%, hot spots are flaring up, our hills and lands are still parched and dry, over 40 people are dead, neighborhoods have been decimated, 5700 structures and local institutions destroyed and everyone – the fire victims, the evacuees, and the witnesses are just beginning to assess and process the magnitude of this event.
As the cinders cool and our friends and neighbors return to what is left and what is no longer, we are all beginning to reflect on what was, what is and maybe what can be. There are lessons here that not only can transform how we keep our homes and families safe in the event of a disaster, but there are bigger and much deeper and profound personal learnings about community, living on our beautiful and precious planet, and about death and grief and life.
My guest today is one person who can glean a new vision from these ashes. She is someone who can look amidst the rubble and with a different lens find the precious non material gems that offer us all a new paradigm for living richer, fuller and more connected lives.
I invite you to listen to her story and see if you too can envision a new life trajectory that values aliveness over numbness, stewardess over ownership and a path to deeper connections to ourselves, others and our planet.
If you would like more information about Death Cafes, future workshops beginning in 2018, and to be added to Tess’s mailing list, you can contact Tess at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Roberta Teller