It’s been a week since the fire passed through Tassajara. Four of the Tassajara five remain secluded at the monastery. (Abbot Steve Stücky was able to leave early Wednesday morning.) We are doing fine, with more than enough food and water, and finally also catching up on rest. Most of us haven’t had a day off in the last month, what with the numerous evacuations, fire preparations, staffing logistics, and then the fire itself. We’re now focusing on a number of projects, including documenting the events of the fire, reviewing the damages, considering what and how to begin repairs, replacing the burnt piping to the spring box, restoring the Stone Office to its pre-bunker state, and planning for the work period days prior to the (hopeful) reopening of the Tassajara 2008 summer guest season. We are also looking forward to welcoming back the displaced sangha members and to together reestablishing the rhythms of practice and community that are the heart of Tassajara.
A haze still hovers in the valley, despite what seems like a fairly constant breeze. Without the foliage on the mountains, it seems to be windier down in Tassajara. There’s a hint of fall to the trees remaining on the hillsides, as many of their leaves are turning brown since being scorched. Ash continues to accumulate on the grounds and buildings. The sound of rock slides is heard frequently throughout the day and night. Already the lesions marking the fire’s entry into Tassajara are being slowly veiled by falling oak leaves, suggesting that nature’s healing process has begun. Deer are continually spotted on the grounds enjoying the green vegetation, and the squirrels only seem to grow fatter on the spoils of the compost shed treasure.
I’ve been able to write up an account of the events of July 9th, the day of the third evacuation and leading up to the morning of the fire. I hope it will help to clarify the many questions people have had about how it came to be that only five people remained at Tassajara. The exercise of writing this account has helped me to better understand—and to allow a new found spaciousness for—how we all respond to the ever-changing conditions of each moment with the best effort we are able to make at the time. The decisions we make may not be the “right” ones, but they are simply the best decisions we can make in the moment before us. And we are never alone in our choices, for the whole universe co-creates with us the myriad dharmas and our responses to them.
On behalf of the Tassajara five, thank you all for your tremendous outpouring of support, concern and love. It nourishes us greatly to know how much everyone cares about Tassajara and the wilderness around it, the well-being of the residents of this valley, the vitality of
Bows of gratitude,
David Zimmerman, Director