As many of you know, we are experiencing a major devastating wildfire here in Santa Barbara, as well as other parts of California. It has displaced so many in our community – thousands have had to evacuate without knowing what will happen to their properties, and some have even lost their homes to the fire.
There is a deep unease, life is thrown into limbo, yet the very disruption is also engendering a deep connection among us – an understanding of what it means to be a community.
December here is usually a time of celebration, getting together with our loved ones and friends, delighting each other with gifts, and enjoying the season. But the fires here have changed that for us, as we move our families out of harm’s way, wear masks to protect ourselves from the smoke, and live on the edge, not knowing what the future will look like here. In our Waxing Poetic family, we have had several employees who were required to evacuate, including my family, and several more who may be evacuated over the next few days. We also have friends, customers and vendors who are at risk. We share our angst, fear and hope with each other and have come together to support the larger community.
Though so many things are unknown, what we do know is that we are being given yet another opportunity to choose love over fear. Love, and our connection to it in the most divine sense, and to each other, is the truth we all are moving towards. In being faced with losing our homes, the lives we have come to know, we are given the freedom to release ourselves from our past, from who we think we are, and instead, embrace the here and now, who we are, and who we might become. We are hopefully able to wake up so that we may not squander this precious life, but instead show each other that we matter, that all of this matters, all living things, as we all are so dependent on each other in order to live.
Thank you to our incredibly strong, caring and resilient community; to the firefighters, the heroes and heroines, all of us who are facing these disasters who continue to shine their light on the situation to help others. We pray for everyone’s safety. As the fires become more contained, will be working with local organizations to lend a hand, rebuild and rediscover this beloved spot on earth that we are so grateful to call home.
Amidst the many extreme challenges our world is facing, sometimes we don’t feel so “Happy, happy, happy” as the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is supposed to make us feel.
Yet even so, there are still so many things to be thankful for. Our resilience. Our faith. Our friends and family. And still sometimes the darkness can seem overwhelming. Oh my, there is so much. Yet I am hopeful that we are being taught on this path of evolution… to come together in the face of so much adversity. As George Harrison sang “with every mistake, we must surely be learning.”
So much to write on this. But later. This year my focus is elsewhere. When something life-threatening happens to someone we love, everything else falls silently into the background, and we realize (I sure did) how precious the life is that we share together.
Writing this, I write as a mother, to share a little about the event that drowned the world around me out and shook me to my core.
Last November, our daughter Lulu was getting sick. It was unexplained, and after several urgent care visits, we ended up in the emergency room. I will never forget the horrible, helpless feeling of my heart sinking when the ER doctor came in the room and said “Mom, can I speak to you outside?”
Our then 6-year old daughter had a condition that required us to helicopter her to Los Angeles, where she could get the care our smaller hospital couldn’t provide. John flew with her and I drove down to the LA Children’s Hospital nearly hysterical – my friend Jen on the phone with me, trying to keep me focused all the way down. John and Lulu were met by the medical team on the helipad and Lulu was brought directly into the ICU.
After many tests and 5 days and nights at the hospital Lulu seemed strong enough to go home. A month later Lulu was in surgery. Hour after hour, alongside my husband and Lulu’s Grandmother, Mimi, I deeply meditated on her coming through, sending her light, asking God to guide her surgeon’s hands, praying for her and not knowing what the outcome would be (I can barely write these words without tears). Moms (and Dads) who have been through something like this, I know you understand. I know most everyone can.
This little girl…. She made it through, and we made it through, bolstered by the prayers and love of our community, forever altered by what happened.
So here we are, transformed by heartache, uncertainty, pain, trauma and the big love. Today, if we can stay present to each other and to this gift of life, each sunrise, each mess, each hug, each baking session, each laugh, each sunset is one more that we have together, together… John, Lulu and I are still here, together.
In my little family, we hug a little harder these days. Within these hugs lies the energy and love of everyone who helped Lulu get better, and our friends and family, and our larger community who helped us cope along the way. I am humbled and grateful to realize the gifts you have given us.
Wishing you all the great joys of finding and being in the present moment, and a deeply Joyful Thanksgiving together with those we love,
A Thankful Poem from Patti
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you
Thank you for noticing,
Thank you for seeing our metaphoric light signal &
Blinking back brightly –
Thank you for showing your hearts,
for sharing your joys and celebrations,
Thank you for telling us your stories, For taking risks
For never ceasing to inspire us
For holding space for wonder,
for making room for the poignant & particular,
For validating the inexplicable pull certain words have
symbols and sentiments as brave beacons
avenues towards something brighter and truer than
one might normally imagine
For celebrating the journey in many different forms
For understanding what it is we are trying to share with the world
And for making it more understandable by sharing yourselves
For tiny moments of brilliant sparkles
cherished memories, victories of varying scale
stories with heart, with cheers and tears (more times than we can count)
For keeping Faith + Friendship feisty displays of
& all the other words that aren’t yet ready
For trying out, for coming back, for being braver
For giving us more reasons to make more reasons
For you, for you, for you
(we are thankful)
And… a testament to who we love
kindness and cats
fashion and soccer
poetry and shiny things
butterflies and baseball
Your world, and in it
The mother and free spirit
The survivor and friend
The neighbor and birdwatcher
The sister and saint
You are seen and you are cherished
The husband and hero
The wife and heroine
The journey and the moment
Recognized here, now.
As you live and breathe
In time and through space
Under the moon and stars
I like you and love you
Sons and musicians
Daughters and dancers
Friends and dreamers
This is for you.
This is for everyone.
This is for you.
Who we love.