Particle respirator masks were an unexpected addition to my Thanksgiving in California. Even thought we were 200 miles away from the devastating fire around Paradise the air quality was dangerously unhealthy.

The media frequently referred to the California wild fires as apocalyptic. It could certainly feel like the world is ending by going up in flames and this is one meaning of apocalypse. I heard Rev. Kristin Stoneking ask her congregation to hear the word apocalypse in a different way. It’s Greek, from apo and kalipti, and literally means “an uncovering.”

It’s so important to talk ourselves down from thinking we’ve reached the end of the world. Most of us are maxed out on bad news and it can feel like each shooting, fire, or lost species is evidence that our worst fears are coming to pass.

But what if there is more of the story to be revealed beyond our despairing conclusions? What if we could face the full catastrophe of the California fires and ask what is being unveiled and revealed?

The impacts of the fire are as widespread as the plume of smoke that was carried all the way to New York. Experts agree that the California megafires are a symptom of climate change, that sticky problem in which we are all entwined. We are all part of the fires.

Our interconnection is perhaps what these fires have the capacity to reveal.

It is much too simplistic to say we “just need to wake up” to how we are interconnected. I will say that my own process of learning to lean into our interconnection felt like a mini end-of-times apocalypse. I have never been so convinced that I might be dying as when I experienced my first major breakdown in my rugged individualism.

Letting go of our carefully built individual self requires vulnerability to a greater whole. In the process I discover who I am in a much larger sense. But participating in this bigger whole requires that you include your soft underbelly. Through Martha Nussbaum’s work I’ve come to understand that disgust at our vulnerabilities is the real culprit impeding us from leaning into our interrelationship. Hate isn’t the problem as much as shame.

One of the great gifts of spiritual practice is increasing our capacity to be vulnerable to our greater wholeness. We each arose from a profoundly interwoven universe. Our universe continues to move towards more unity, diversity and consciousness. Just how we are going to do that and what it will look like – that has yet to be revealed.

Keep practicing!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Drop in any week to Healing Waters Qigong, a Spring Forest Qigong practice group, or to the Wisdom Dances dance practice, based in Laura Shannon’s research on traditional dances as tools for healing and transformation.