We’ve put our heart, soul, time, energy and of course a lot of money into opening the sanctuary Adytum. Yet in the final analysis, our energy is best spent cultivating the things that endure, the inner life, the sanctuary of the human spirit and focusing on what we can control…
As the earth shifted under my feet at 7:42 this morning in a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, so my focus shifts back to the unshakable core of life: the strength of spirit, life’s true purpose and the things that will remain standing no matter what hits on the surface – faith, hope and love remain.
If the high winds of yesterday that toppled trees and left many without power, and earthquake this morning had reduced all our hard work of building Adytum to rubble in a moment’s time, it’s comforting to be assured that we would still inhabit the “safe house” of our spirit. We have our personal portable sanctuary well-tended and supplied with all the essentials of a happy, abundant life. Windstorms, earthquakes, fire and flood have no power to destroy the invisible.
Yesterday, the Pacific Northwest sun assured us of her presence for exactly three minutes out of the entire rain swept day, just before branding golden brilliance into the mountainside and sliding away. High winds immediately lashed out at dusk, throwing fir branches from nearby trees like arrows against this house of glass…75 windows at last count. Each November the trees hurl their wooden missiles at the glass, some sending entire branches to break in splinters on the roof. The force is so great that large limbs will be driven like stakes into the ground. A few nights of tree warfare and we were cured.
Yesterday Paul’s Tree Service arrived with their boom truck; a bucket and lift ready to transport them to the tree tops to cut “danger trees” down in segments with huge chainsaws. Grady and Paul guided the precise direction of the fall with strong wires, roping in Donn and Pablo to pull with them on the hardest trees where the chance of real damage to existing structures was the greatest. There is a real art to dropping a tree. They all did a great job; I took pictures from a safe distance.
Danger trees…a new word learned since building here four years ago. Basically there is a fine line between forest land conservation and responsible homeownership. As newbies, we erred on the line of conservation, leaving far too many trees close to the house in our early initiation. Now we have to face the fact that our decision leaves us, our guests and Adytum in danger, and we spent dearly to fix the problem after the fact.
Paul cut about half a dozen trees down, some small but deadly snags aptly called “widow makers”; brittle old trees growing up inside established trees, or dead limbs hung up in live branches waiting to make their fatal impaling earthbound exit. A tall tree of small girth, we learned, can shatter high above unexpectedly sending shards or the entire tree down with deadly impact on unsuspecting souls beneath even in windless conditions. The work was complete just before the high winds arrived last night.
Today I prepared to clean up all the bits and pieces of last night’s windstorm off the decks, patios and porches when Adytum endured yet another blast – a 4.2 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter just three miles east of us. Maybe the proximity to the epicenter is why it registered with us as an underground explosion rather than the usual rock and roll we’ve all endured. Standing in the Tower Room with glass going about 30 feet up all around, watching it act like it was about to explode into the room…then at the last possible second return to normal was terrifying. Things that are solid are supposed to be solid! What an illusion the notion of any kind of stability is in today’s world is…the financial markets are excellent recent example. The usual “shake and sway” never manifested and we were left in those initial minutes trying to determine if our natural gas line into the house had exploded underground. The news verified the quake minutes later.
Adytum’s construction is sound and true thanks to the careful craftsmanship of Elite Builders, NW – our son’s construction company. I thanked him for that when I called to let him know all was well at Adytum. We’ve watched this castle house survive the tremendous windstorms every November without flinching: like a lighthouse taking a battering from the sea Adytum remains after the intensity has swept over her. Now being nearly on top of the epicenter of a significant earthquake and absorbing the shock with a determined grace, Adytum still stands strong, an example for those of us who read something into everything. Grace under pressure, Kennedy once remarked…
The quake preceded by the terrific force of the wind last night has left a plaque lying face down on the courtyard outside. Putting it back on the wall, Dante’s words read, “Nature is the art of God”. Sounds so sweet… The beautiful sunsets we enjoy at “happy hour” where the skies celebrate day’s end in explosions of pure color are a love gift. But there is a flipside to this artistry: the terrible majesty of November’s storms, blowing in off Lake Mayfield to batter against this glass house with torrents of wind driven rain and hail. Ancient fir near the house bending like California palm trees with the gale, shored up by our prayers that they stand firm and spare the house. Now the occasional shifting of middle earth, letting pent up pressure off in an explosion of terrific force. Inside we enjoy nature’s art in peace and safety.
Adytum is built on solid rock. Still the cleansing winds and the convulsive shockwave of the earth beneath my feet remind me that everything I see can change instantly; be leveled or worse. There is destructive power in the art of God as well as artistry that feeds our souls night after night in the moments before dusk. Nature is part tender lover, part terrible majesty. Rumi reminds me where to invest time, energy and focus, “World power means nothing. Only the unsayable, jeweled inner life matters.”
Just as we had to find the fine line between forest conservation and responsible home ownership, so our outward focus must find the fine line balance between being caught up in creating our dreams on the earth and creating our “jeweled” inner sanctuary while we still have the breath it takes to do it. It’s all we can be sure of in today’s shifting world.