My soul is a country…..charred
The rivers of my being
Carrying fear and grief
through landscapes of
Devoid of joy and
Marked by firebreaks –
futile attempts to
control the raging
When my spirit blows
carrying cinders of healing
Leaving my soul a country
charred beyond my will
Now rich with potential,
rejoice or regret?
Life destroyed or new life offered
My soul is a country charred…
My Spirit, the constant gardener
Living in the midlands during the fire season – as I am sure in any area where there are open landscapes of grasslands, fynbos or forests, is rather trying. Every expression of creation is vulnerable, whether it be human, animal of plant kingdom. We are all equally exposed to the ruthless flow of the balancing act know to many of us, through the kind coining by insurance companies, as acts of God.
So it is then, that in preparation for the fire season, all the invested parties start making firebreaks, check their fire equipment, set up fire teams and rosters and network with the neighbors in order to ensure the best possible precautions are in place. Having been warned that this year the conditions seem more favorable (in favor of fires) and less favorable for the landowners, extra precautions were taken and a lot of publicity was given to make people more aware of the dangers.
In spite of all of this, however, we have had constant runaway fires, where in many cases the ‘bomber planes’ had to be called in with either water or chemicals to try and stop the damage. This is a costly exercise, but it certainly does help and often prevents catastrophe – most of the times. During June, one such a fire broke out and, assisted by approx 110kmh winds, destroyed 4 000ha of forest and 59 000ha of grassland and grazing – statistics which have staggering implications, as that area included many homes, feed, animals and crops. Seeing the devastation leaves one humbled and in awe of the power of unchecked elements of nature.
No less destructive are the elements of emotions as they roar and blow through our lives. We live upon landscapes which we have created over lifetimes, with every experience and every relationship defining a new lifetime – crafting them to our needs, our longing, our demands. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are the sculptors of our lives, we are the landowners of the piece of life which we have been allocated, we are the caretakers.
It is in that word – caretaker – that the balance becomes unbalanced, for we take care of the earth, and the people around us, because of what we take from them. Even if we take care of another or of ourselves, in many ways we take the response-ability for their own or our lives away, we take away the joy of self sufficiency, we take care of them and our own emotions in order to keep them and ourselves safe from that which hurts, taking from them and ourselves the experience of growth through pain. We do the same with the earth.
We make fire breaks to ensure that the fires will not ravage the earth, yet we do not allow the soil from which the forests have just been harvested, a time of healing and regeneration – no, it has to be replanted immediately, it has to produce, for in being planted it is productive. We may rotate crops, but plant it we must. Our dams sometimes reach alarmingly low levels, yet the minute it gets more water, it is immediately drained again, not allowing the water life to re-establish itself in a meaningful way. In these ways we destroy our land and we destroy the landscape of our emotions, and it is for this reason that Spirit will bring upon the land the fires of healing and clearing – that we as caretakers can take a step back and realize that we cannot control the forces of nature, that we cannot determine the destiny of an Earth that has a role so magnificent, so powerful in its facilitation of our earthly lives. We cannot play God over the land, and if truth be told, we make the firebreaks, not to heal or protect the land, but to protect our investment in it, our homes, our interests.
As we do this with the earth, we do the same with our lives. We notice the fire season approaching as our lives start to show signs of winter – no longer blossoming, but starting to become bare, stripped of the window dressing of green leaves and flowers that cover up the reality of the erosion in the soil of our being. So we gather around, we read the books to prepare ourselves, we make emotional firebreaks by setting boundaries – not in the places where the pain is, but with those surrounding us, isolating ourselves so as not to allow in that which could threaten our somewhat vulnerable core, and we start talking to anyone who would listen – the neighbors, the friends – the emotional fire towers. We heed the warnings and we sometimes even visit counselors, allowing them to pour the deadening chemicals of reason over our ravished souls, and then we return home, feeling numbed and lulled into a space of artificial contentment, praying that the fire tower will not notice the smoke and call our name – again.
The truth is that we need to restore the balance – we need to step off the wheel of the caretaker and become caregivers – we need to give our love and our heartfelt compassion to the earth, to each other and above all, to ourselves. We owe ourselves the honesty to know that we deserve time out when we are in pain, that we deserve to heal and we deserve a life filled with blessings and joy – we deserve green fields and forests that sing when the wind rushes through it. Our Spirit, just like the spirit of the earth, will draw upon all the elements to restore the balance – it will bring us to our knees if that is what it will take, it will blow gale force winds of change and pain through our hearts, let us burn with the desire for love which we are unable to recognize in ourselves, it will ravish the very ground upon which we have built our sand castles and it will leave us barren ……… or brimming with new hope, new life, new gifts.
The choice is ours, and we need to look at the Earth and at our lives – we need to truly see whether we do what we do for fear of loss, for then we are caretakers, of from a place of compassion and unconditional love, being the Caregivers of this space called Creation.
Our true essence is Love – the ability to create, to nurture and to give love unconditionally, for if we live our lives for our highest good, always asking the question: “In this decision, am I serving my ego or feeding my soul?”, and consciously, no matter what the circumstances, choose to heal our souls, we will be the perfection we were created to be. Towers of strength and messengers of hope, acting always for the highest good of ALL, not for the maintenance of our clamouring egotistical needs.
May your lives be filled with enough reason for you to see the smoke, to feel the dangers of a depleted soul and enough passion to temper the runaway fires of life into gentle campfires where you spirit can come to rest and feed.