The good thing about camping during the period of not knowing what was happening with the #ValleyFire was that we were kept busy enough with just the basics of living. Sarah and Julie were able to find a sweet, rocky spring fed creek a brief distance from camp while my friend and I rested and set up our tents.
I revealed a perfectly ripe peach that had been sequestered in the dark, protected regions of my sturdy (and heavy!) bear canister. I sliced up the fresh treasure and shared it out, each of us taking delight in the refreshingly moist, cool peachy experience, particularly delicious because of dry conditions at our camp spot, despite being just above the shoreline of the Pacific.
We made a trip back to the spring before sunset, resting our tired feet in the cool running water.
By the time dinner was over I was ready for bed--my body completely exhausted. But my mind was reeling. I hadn't even finished processing the loss of the cabin from the #RockyFire and was still working on the blog recounting that unexpected and profound experience.
So, I rested horizontally in my tent for a brief time then took to writing the final installment of the blog. The images of the hike up to the cabin were still fresh and could be easily recalled. I drafted furiously in my journal by headlamp--the energy was strong! Anything to keep me from thinking about the myriad possibilities of what was happening to my home and to our community. My distressed mind could spin countless scenarios, with body in tow responding anxiously to each one.
Voices around the camp waned as I tucked in, shutting off the headlamp, now exhausted from writing and thinking, too. But I couldn't shut the mind off. With as many years as I've been practicing mindfulness, this was one of those times when I knew the obsessive meandering was stronger than my will to redirect it. It was one of those moments and I just had to seat belt myself in for the ride. The best I could do was be aware of this and not try to fight it.
At some point during the inner banter, I must have fallen asleep, because I remember waking to the sound of a strong wind whipping through the trees and bushes surrounding our camp. This wasn't like the cool, moist winds that blew through camp the night before only 7 miles south, but a warm, bizarrely dry wind, swirling from the Northwest--from the ocean itself.
I maybe slept an hour or two, as my dry, scratchy eyes slowly pried open, peeking at my phone--1:00 AM. I tossed back my sleeping bag and listened to the tent shifting back and forth in response to the strong, direct, dry wind. Dry? Coming directly off the ocean?
Within moments we were all awake noting the eerie and ominous nature of the weather. (I later learned that the wind on the day of the #ValleyFire was also warm and dry coming from the Northwest.) The wakefulness resulted in a trip to the bear canisters for a late night snack, a drink of water, some chatter and a pee. If it was hard to sleep before, it was even more so now as the sound of the wind coupled with the uncommon nature of it kept creeping into my consciousness as I drifted in and out. That and the warmth itself led to tossing and turning, pushing off the sleeping bag, pulling it back on. Turning. Turning again. And again.
Julie had lent me a copy of Alan Watt's The Wisdom of Insecurity. (When I pay attention, timing is always in perfect order.) It couldn't have been more apropos to read the passages I read in the wee hours of the morning for what was to come.
In Watt's assessment, he distinguishes between belief and faith in that believers hold to only those things that confirm their truth, whereas those with faith live with an open mind to the truth, whatever it may be.
It was at the moment of reading this passage that I chose to remember to move in faith with the unfolding of events, whatever they may be...
JoAnn Saccato, MA is a mindfulness teacher, author, life coach, educator, and consultant in Northern California. She is author of Companioning the Sacred Journey and the forthcoming Mindful and Intentional Living: A Path to Peace, Clarity and Freedom