Only by contending with challenges that seem to be beyond your strength to handle at the moment can you grow more surely towards the stars. Brian Tracy

The current bushfires across our country are affecting us all. Some have lost their lives, many have lost homes and property, few have not breathed the smoke. Those directly impacted have been forced out of normal patterns of living, having to cope with changes in dwelling, work, community, travel and holiday plans. Everyone is affected by the news of destruction to people, towns, livestock, bushland and wildlife. We now live in a different Australia due to the shifts in mindset brought about by these unprecedented firestorms.


Major challenges create stress, requiring us to respond urgently and creatively. We are forced to think about what our most important possessions are when we have to leave an area quickly. A sudden evacuation might mean grabbing the kids, the pets and a few papers and photos if we are lucky. Our usual concerns and focuses can suddenly become trivial – the new piece of furniture or project in the garden are forgotten when life is at stake. A psychological culling takes place in the crisis as our priorities shift to what is most significant.


If we have spent our time focused solely on the material, physical, ‘horizontal’ axis aspects of life, then the loss of stability, familiar routines and things we own will be most stressful. The sudden changes a disaster brings can be experienced as a loss of identity: the shifts in form, the world around us, mean we no longer know who we are. The more body-identified we are, the more devastating the upheaval will be.


In contrast, if we have cultivated some connection to the spiritual, beyond physical, ‘vertical’ dimension of our existence, then we have a stable anchor in the stormy seas of dramatic events. The ‘kingdom of heaven’ in the depths of our being is the inner sanctum that no darkness can overcome, no change in the material universe can disturb, no fire can destroy. The heart of our beyond-human nature provides the constant peace and freedom we all seek regardless of outer circumstances.


As we face the current disaster, we are prompted to find the truest priorities in our lives, reduce the psychological clutter to find what in the world of matter ‘matters’. Internally the invitation is to reach for what is truest in our self; our souls and the divine Spirit that enlightens us. The powerful responses of people dealing with chaos – acts of courage and generosity, individually, in community, as a nation – demonstrate our soul character rising phoenix-like from the ashes.


Let this terrible time be the very making of us all.