We live in Paradise. We choose to live here where our drinking water comes from mountain streams, where the air is clear and pure. We live where people in our community value Mother Earth over consumerism, where many people have blockaded, protested, and petitioned to keep it this way. We live where an annual festival celebrates the Water of Life. We live where an anonymous woman places hand-made God's Eyes as intentional prayers along the backroads and highways.
And despite all this love for our corner of Paradise, sometimes, things go awry. Forest fires bloom from a lightning spark, threatening the mountain directly behind our home...our backyard, so to speak. A tanker of jet fuel ~ on its way to get the helicopters fighting the fire ~ accidentally spills into our river, contaminating the flowing artery of our valley.
Evacuations in the night and early morning hours, grabbing odds and ends in a scattered, irrational hurry, and running children to awaiting cars and hoping they don't breathe the toxic fumes in too deeply. Wondering if they will every go fishing, or swimming, in our river again. Wondering what mark all the helicopter droning and jet fuel smell will indelibly leave on their psyche. Mourning that they will always think twice about dipping their toes into the sand along the river again.
We spent the days at other beaches, up river from the spill. Our hearts were heavy and sad...lots of tears shed with friends and with people in the community who we never talk to, but see all the time.
As a community, we are grieving. We shall meet together in a prayer circle for the river tomorrow. We will think of ways to help mend the grievous wrong against Mother Nature, and we will begin to help heal the river.
We need to show our children that we will not give up on our river, that we will work to help her. We will guide them with the knowledge that we are each empowered to make a difference, beginning with the first step...cleaning up.