[Note: This entry was drafted on the Saturday evening of the breakout of the #ValleyFire when I was camping the Lost Coast with some girlfriends. We heard about the fire through a text received when cresting the 2,000 ft. elevation gain on our grueling 6 hour hike. Out of concern, my friend, Vicki Crystal, texted: "How close is the fire to you? Praying big time."
Each of us on the hike had something in harms way of the fire, whether it was our home or our vehicle or both. We each exhaustedly tossed and turned that night from our remote campsite with no reception.
A hot dry wind blew through the camp around 1:00AM. We were some 150 miles northwest of the fire, but the eeriness didn't go unnoticed.]
Of course! Of course this sacred spot was spared.
I suddenly felt closer to Walter and Shyla as I exerted myself up the steep hill back to the trail. Each step seemed to carry with it hundreds of memories. How many times had I walked this path? Ten years, though, not every day. The first few years, maybe three or four times a week. The latter years, five to seven.
First sight of the altar spot with Tibetan Prayer flags surviving the intense fire.
What did any of this matter now? I dipped through the small creek bed and continued on the path looking down through the hazy canyon to the memorial spot where Walter's family lovingly placed a Buddha statue and his ashes under a majestic, protective oak. (I believe this was the spot he had first camped when they bought the property some 40 years ago.)
Shyla and I spent many a Sunday morning or evening overlooking the hills beyond and meditating under this tree. She, as usual, a distance away, able to see both directions of the path--always the protector. Over time, I added photos, flowers, incense, candles and, eventually, some of Shyla's own ashes to this special spot.
Today, through softly rising smoke, I could actually see the pale colors of the gently worn Tibetan Prayer flags blowing in the warm, steady wind.
Wait a minute.... What?! This fire that flattened multiple two story buildings, that melted and twisted metal just a hundred or so feet away, spared the thin, dry, threadbare flags?! And the tree from which they hung?
The branched, stately oak stood and as I veered down the path, closer to the spot, it became increasingly clear that the fire had been gracefully selective. Immediately I questioned--did the cabin remain, too? I looked up the hill not remembering if I could see the cabin from this spot. No sign of it.