Recently, our friends in Santa Rosa were deluged by cataclysmic fires. Families lost homes, others were evacuated. Lives were turned upside down in just minutes.
Now, evacuation plans circulate our community. We’ve had close calls here, too.
One evening this fall, neighbors and evacuees gathered on Maidu Ridge to watch the approaching inferno. Earlier in the day, our son was helping a friend evacuate. He told us the fire was in his friend’s backyard.
Right before I arrived at the watching spot a group of residents connected with Ananda’s Healing Prayer Ministry had just completed a series of healing prayers, sending them out to all the victims, the firefighters, all those in need. Slowly, the fire was retreating.
We connected with our son, who seemed anxious about the land. Fire bombers were arriving from the south, the scene was an epic war of air and earth.
For several minutes I just stood, raised my hands and chanted OM over and over again, sending waves of peace, blessing and love to the encroaching flames. I was due to take a long walk with a friend but I sat riveted. The only thing I could do was pray for one hour.
Later, I received instruction on future evacuations. I live at the Ananda Meditation Retreat, even more secluded than the village. We’re on the edge of the wilderness, surrounded by thousands of acres of forest, forest, forests. We share the area with California black bears, bobcat, deer and a host of sentient beings.
In the Santa Rosa fire many people were trapped—there was no escape plan. People jumped into pools, lucky ones escaped by car or foot. I thought about my own evacuation. How would I escape if such a fire encroached?
The great Yogananda once told my teacher there would come a time where no place was safe on the planet and there would be crying in every home. The recent cataclysms of hurricanes and fires awaken us. Where is the safe house? In our inner home, guided by our breath? Or running on the trail with the bear, the deer, the escapees?