The week of June 17, 2013, the rain came—and it didn’t stop.
By June 20, Calgary, Alberta and its neighboring towns and cities were in a state of emergency. Mandatory evacuation orders were being delivered to low lying areas.
At first I, like many others, thought the state of emergency was our city just being cautious. I thought the rain would blow over and everything would continue as normal. I thought people would return home, we all would put our feet up and wait the storm out.
After all, we were in a landlocked city, a place where snowstorms rolled out in the spring, we wore shorts in 10 degrees and the sun stayed out until 11 p.m. in the summer.
This time, us Albertans were on the verge of experiencing a life-changing event.
As the rain pounded relentlessly, the wind blew furiously, we watched in horror as the events unfolded through social media and on T.V.
We watched our beautiful river fill up with murky brown water and spill over, through our streets, over our bridges and into our homes. We watched decks and boilers float by in the streets. We watched the Saddledome fill up with water. We saw trees, bridges and roads come crashing down.
How could this be? How could this happen to our city—our bustling and growing metropolis, so young, vibrant and filled with possibility?
Most of us were glued to our computer screens, trying hard to comprehend that this was our city; these were our streets, our buildings, our homes, our jobs, our lives. Though emergency services and our mayor urged us to stay off the streets, some of us couldn’t resist walking over to our neighborhoods, or driving closer to the flood areas.
We needed to see it with our own eyes.
We needed to understand somehow that this was happening. We needed to witness the devastation, feel the intensity of Mother Nature and stand with our neighbors together.
Our compassion got the best of us as we heard stories of missing family members and people who had to leave their beloved pets behind. Our fears eased as the military personnel arrived from Edmonton to help in whatever ways were needed. Our tears flowed as pictures poured in from our friends and family, showing us they had lost their homes—and life as they knew it.
As these stories poured in, something quite wonderful started to happen. Our defenses fell down. No one person was an island any longer. Partnerships started to form, communities came together to help. We were brothers and sisters offering support in any way we could.
Those of us who were spared created clean-up events on Facebook, opened our hearts and homes via Twitter and Kijiji, rescued animals and offered ourselves in service. As the waters rose and receded, our hearts swelled and opened to each other.
Our ego nature slipped away, naturally and effortlessly.
Our city moved from “I” to “We.”
We are a collective whole now, brought together by our compassion and our divine nature. No longer is there any sense of competition, any feelings of isolation. For the time being we have released our illusion of separateness and moved to a cohesive whole, in order to help and heal one another.
This phenomenon happens in every part of the world when disaster strikes. All of a sudden, we humans realize and recognize the fragility of our lives. We deeply understand that our spiritual mission here on this planet is to be of service, and it is with great passion that we move into this mission without delay.
Today, in our province and in the city of Calgary, our hearts are wide open.
At this moment, the sun is shining down on us all through the clouds. The water levels are lowering as we continue to pray for the recovery of our beautiful, resilient city and the towns that surround us.
We offer deep gratitude to our amazing mayor and emergency officials, keeping us safe and continuously updated. We offer our prayers to those who have lost their homes. We offer our entire beings in service.
And it is with great gratitude, that we watch our city rise. I know I speak for all of us when I say, I am so proud to be a Calgarian.
Naaz Ali is a spiritual enthusiast, yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Feng Shui consultant, jewelry designer, and healer (not necessarily in that order). She loves green juice, dancing barefoot in her kitchen, crystals, mala beads, cuddling with her kitty, romantic comedies, and learning about the spiritual laws of life. Find out more about Naaz and her latest venture, Earth Elements, here.
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Assistant Ed.: Moira Madden/Ed: Bryonie Wise