Tuesday, October 30, 2007


“This is how he grows;
by being defeated decisively
by constantly greater things.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke

My back yard is where I go to sort out my experiences in the world. Because the seasons require certain chores to be performed at certain times, gardening brings order to my otherwise disheveled life. In the garden, I’m able to gather the jumbled pieces of thought within me, and to update my head with the clutter of sensory things from without. It’s where my subjective mental landscape meets the objective awareness of the world. The other day, the spa finally reflected a clear sky, but you can see the ash on the water in this picture.

Returning from exile after the fires, we contemplate not just the damaged environment but how that damages us. (I should insert a disclaimer here that I lost nothing in the fire except some autumn-tinted mums that were halted in their tracks. I did not evacuate; I did not fall asleep in some strange place wondering if I’d ever make it home again.)

But I was metaphorically evacuated from the peaceful grove out my back door, and I was deprived of the meditative space where I escape from worldly cares. As if cleansed by the fires, I can see clearly how important my environment is not merely to contemplate life outside, or to seek inner peace, but to survive.

Our community rose to the fire’s challenge and we survived. Now, we have to rise to the longer and harder challenge: to recover.

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