Summer in Southern Oregon was just as beautiful as I had imagined it might be. Sunny and warm during the day, with crisp, clear nights that glowed with stars. It felt like heaven on earth. And then the smoke rolled in.
Sometimes it would just last a day or two, and other times it seemed to hang around for weeks.
Even though the locals were expecting it, it affected everyone- leaving us foggy headed and lethargic, with a sense of general uneasiness, reminding us that the world was burning.
Towards the end of my stay on the farm the smoke cleared up and by the time October rolled around, bringing the Fall rains, the threat was over and the grass was green again, the clouds were rolling in, and the mosses were plumping up and coming back to life too.
The smoke made me thankful for every clear day we had. For every mountain peak I could see, and for every beam of sunshine that broke through the trees and fell across my face.
As I enter back into city life after living in southern Oregon paradise for a season, I’m reminded of the smoke, and the effort it took to see through it. To know there is a gorgeous landscape all around me, it’s just being obscured temporarily. I feel that way in the city almost always- like I’m living in a ceaseless smoke season. I know that all around me exists heaven on earth- right here where I am, wherever I am- but often there are things that obscure it and cause me to forget.
Artificial light doesn’t make the stars disappear- it just creates a veil that keeps us from seeing them clearly. The sounds of the birds, the river, the winds, still flow through the landscape- they’re just covered up by the noise of the highways- those rivers of human hurry.
Our ancestors still whisper to us in the ethers, encouraging and guiding us on our journey- but often we don’t hear them through the drone of our technology and the chatter of our minds.
I am convinced that our self generated distance from Nature is at the root of our illness as a society and as individuals. Luckily, health (and heaven) is still here, waiting for us, behind the layers of debris created by our own forgetting. All we have to do is remember it. And as we remember it, it will come back into focus, and we will change the way we are living to accommodate its reflourishing.
As I settle back into life in a city- with so many layers- I will strive to appreciate and attend to every piece of paradise that I perceive- even if I can only see the outline of it.