News from around the Ojai Valley

Lose the Glasses Kent! - Fawn Parish

It was heaven in the center of hell. No one cared if you were Progressive, Conservative, Liberal … status, race, religion, all the walls that divide us dissolved as we jointly inhaled a toxic brew of ember soup.
None of us were dreaming wistfully of a White Christmas as white ash from the Thomas Fire covered our mountains. It was all too real, too devastating. Over 700 homes turned to ash, and 422 square miles, larger than New York City and Boston combined, became moonscape.  The Dante-like fire spread terror to children and seniors, and those in between. 
The heavenly part was the epic community that arose. Drive into the tiny city of Ojai and you’d see signs “The love in the air is thicker than the smoke.” It was true. 
Ordinary, everyday, people by the droves took off their Clark Kent glasses and became hero’s overnight. Generosity emptied wallets, like the man who had just lost his home in Ventura, wandering in dazed into Mexican restaurant Limon Y Sal’s   with one mission … to empty his wallet to help others.
One child donated a large tub full of his Legos. Little children wrote letters to Santa telling him to give whatever he was bringing them to the children who had lost their homes.
Like Jonathan Henning who stayed and protected a low rent trailer park in Casitas Springs, or my friend Laura Addison in Camarillo who canceled her large company’s Christmas party, donating the money that would have been spent to the Ventura County Autism Society.
Here’s to the Clark Kent’s among us who will remain hero’s after the crisis is long over.
You will recognize them by these 4 things.
1. They realize the ephemeral nature of stuff …
The Storage Business is booming because we’ve bought into lie that what we truly need is more stuff, when what we really need is our true identities, expressed in more tenderness, more community. 
Many on the fringes of the fire looked at their stuff and asked “If this all turned to ash what truly matters to me?” Your true identity is something much wilder and more wonderful than being a consumer. Find out who you truly are and be that.
2. They treasure what matters …
When people had 10 minutes to gather their things, the things that matter are the memories of relationships, the photo’s, the hard drives, the unexpected notes and tokens of love. How much of our time is invested in developing the true treasure of relationships? How vested can we be in what is truly significant?
3. They bring their distinctive gift to the table … 
Doctor, baker, candlestick maker, there is someone who needs your distinctive true identity and giftedness.
My sculptor friend De Lesprie, is doing free healing art sessions in 3 cities effected by the fire. A well known jeweler in Ventura created a diamond necklace to those who had lost everything in the fire.  Surfers immediately made their surfboards available to the over 8,000 fire fighters from many cities staying in Ventura, to relieve the stress on their time off.
My gift is being like the large round piece in Tinker Toys with lots of holes. I am a connector. “You need what?”  “Just call ______ they’ll be pleased to help you.”
The cure in crisis is community, a community that operates in their distinct true identity.
4. They are defined by love alone-
That emblem on your shirt, car, purse, shoes?  It burns just as fast as the shirt from the thrift store. Same thing with anything you think gives you status. True status, true greatness is found in kindness, thoughtfulness, love. When you’re finishing up life, your greatest memorial will be those you loved well, strangers and friends. Period.
So about that Clark Kent identity you’ve been posing … join the community of hero’s, revealing their true identity beyond this immediate crisis. 
Lose the glasses Kent, our devastated cities need the true you.
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