Just over two weeks ago, we held our estate sale and celebrated a sense of Potlatch release of much of our furniture and a number of decorative items. The following Thursday, Paradise, CA was transformed by wildfire in a few hours from a thriving mountain town with over 15,000 homes and businesses to rubble and a chemical smoke cloud that has yet to dissipate. There are a few buildings still standing, but most of the 27,000 people who lived there lost everything and are grateful to have walked away alive.
We had been planning to leave our 3-bedroom rental house some time early next year, and then stay in the Chico area for about a month for a few last appointments. Suddenly, that all shifted. We told our landlord that if he found a family from the Paradise fire who needed the house, we could be out Dec. 8. This was a bold move for us, especially with no way of seeing what our next housing step might be. Yet, the image came that, if need be, we would get everything into the Subaru and when we reached the end of the driveway make the decision about what direction to head.
For a couple of weeks we have thought that there might not be anyone ready to make the move because of the slow process of aid and insurance money when there is a tragedy this big. The night before last, our landlord called, excited that he might have found the perfect family for the house. Yesterday, we met the mother/grandmother of a three generation household and the fit was perfect. She, her daughter and grandson will move in December 5 and they need as much of our remaining furniture and household items as we can leave behind. Now, instead of trying to find “good homes” for things in thrift shops and as donations down in the Chico area, we are free to drive away with just those things that will fit in our new RV life.
The other piece that fell into place was that we decided that our health-related care can be done as easily in Arizona. When Will spoke to our son, he and his wife told us we are more than welcome to spend December in their home while we look for our home on wheels. So, we are now in the last two weeks of packing, storing some things, preparing the house for its new family and experiencing the fulness of Potlatch.
Everything we have is free to flow to these four people who have lost so much. And they in turn will pass along anything that does not serve them. We are part of a community functioning like the ancestral peoples — when life transitions occur you release everything to those who need it. Potlatch is being fulfilled more beautifully and powerfully than we could have imaged.