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The smoke is coming.
I can tell because my eyes are starting to burn. That and the sky has a slight orange glow to it. The smell of smoke though, it’s the real clincher.
But the smell of this smoke is not like other smoke. Not like a campfire smoke that smells like warmth, joy, music, connection, and deep sharing, like spirit speaking to us from beyond the veil.
No. This smoke smells like trees dying, and animals crying, like lives being burned to the ground, like loss, and grief, and confusion, and despair. This smoke carries in it the dark secrets we’ve been keeping from ourselves. The secret that the deep chemical foundation we’ve built the structures of our modern culture out of will kill us in the end, if we don’t change.
This smoke comes with a message from beyond the veil: “It will either kill you, or make you stronger.” There’s no time left for sitting on the sidelines. The sidelines are literally being burned away. As the message continues, it asks, “On what side of history will you find yourself when the ash has finally settled?” The side that keeps making the same mistakes, and drives us all into global climate catastrophe, like lemmings? Or, the side of history that takes this opening to seek new ways, even if it’s too late, to make the best of the time we have left, to say the collective things we’ve wanted to say but have held back out of fear of losing love.
When all is burning and falling to ash, what is there left to fear?
Change begins in the heart—
—the heart, which itself is like a small inner flame, a fire that fans the spirit of desire and impulse, clarity and action. What have you not said that you’ve been wanting to say? To someone you love, to someone you resist? This is the beginning of the end of life out of balance, of a life that has been such a divergence from what is natural, and sane, and whole.
Which side of the burning will you land on when the ashes have all finally fallen?
The smoke, it smells of revelation and revolution, of change and catastrophe, of a clean slate, an emptiness that can be the starting place of something better. It smells of everything in this world that is dying, and much of it that needs to die, and in that, is a faint smell of hope.
Will we come together?
Will we support each other?
Will we change our values from financial achievement to human wealth, health, and well-being? Is there a place for both?
I am fortunate.
I am one of the people who can afford an expensive, well-designed air purifier to keep the air in my home free of wildfire smoke and the toxins of burning buildings. I am able to use it, as I have a plug in my house that allows me to access electricity—the electricity that is powered by a grid, and a power center, and power lines that are one of the main causes of the outrageous fires that cause me to need an air purifier in the first place.
I have a phone call to make today—I have been carrying a burden in my heart for eight months. I’ve felt some insecurity, some fear that my needs are less important than his, that his matter more. But the truth is both matter. I don’t know what he’ll say, but the important thing is that I say what I need to.
I am clear now that this will create an opening in my heart, an emptiness that had once been occupied by angst, an emptiness full of the potential of love, and clarity, and action. I know this will create an opening in my heart where the next step will be clear. I know this is one way to quiet an inner fire within me that is out of control.
I know where I want to stand, where I am choosing to stand now: my hands are held out and ashes are falling into them. I know the small steps needed to make the larger ones. I don’t know what my larger steps are yet, but I know I can. They are relational. They come out of relationship with others, out of the intimate, and the vulnerability of expressing, and being seen, and seeing. They arise out of connection, and listening, deep listening.
I am listening—to the smell of smoke, to the white ashes in my palm, to the whir of the air purifier in my room.
I am listening, I am talking, I am clearing, and I am ready for action…no sidelines left.