This month’s silence letter is an exploration of the internal stance we take when confronted with unprecedented circumstances. A stance of stillness and silence where we hold questions with no easy answers and situations with no obvious resolution.
One of our CIYO facilitators, Anne Black, finds herself in the midst of such a situation this week, holding a leadership position in the US Forest Service. This is an opportunity for us as a global community to hold this situation in our field of awareness…and to reflect on our personal positioning relative to circumstances where we are faced with events beyond our control.
Anne is based in the northwestern US, in a region where numerous large fires are burning this year due to extreme drought conditions. Although fire is a natural and regenerative force in these landscapes, the severity of some of these fires, and the presence of improperly maintained private lands and homes combine with the current weather to create extremely dangerous (to humans) conditions that defy human management. Still, society demands action, so firefighters respond. Across the west, five lives have been lost fighting the fires this year, four of them due to extreme fire behavior in two separate incidents, and another is fighting to recover from life threatening injuries. Thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes as wind-driven fire runs have burned up to and into their communities. The resulting smoke has created Unhealthy to Hazardous air quality conditions over large portions of 5 states for going on a month now. Fire- fighting resources are tapped to their maximum, and there is no rain in sight. For many of these fires, only fall rains and snows will extinguish the flames. Until then, we wait.
In a recent exchange with Anne we spoke about how to hold the tension when one’s chosen mission seems impossible. She wrote these words to me:
“On my walk earlier today, I asked myself if there was any way I could see myself becoming comfortable – and not judging – this space I find myself in, which is a loss of direction. I no longer know what I want to do, or how I can best assist the planet – and thus have a sense of ennui and a questioning of self-worth. I’ve been driving myself crazy and bummed out with this not knowing, trying in vain to figure it out. Then it struck me:
I am where I am.
Can I be comfortable with this?
Can I be comfortable not knowing how to best serve the planet?
Where does this leave me for the present?
Presence. My Presence….”
When I got this note of reflections from Anne I could feel a new foundation gathering in her for wise and creative movement in the throes of her work.
We would like to dedicate this month’s day of Silence to the deep stillness that abides in the midst of challenging and extreme circumstances.
Barbara, Anne and Peri