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General News · 20th February 2014
Andy Wheatley
It has been a month to the day since tragedy struck. Since then I have been trying to wrap my head around it all. I’m doing ok all things considered. But I worry that I haven’t thanked everyone enough…or I missed someone who helped but I was too blind at the time to notice. I worry that the list is too long for me to thank everyone personally or publicly. There have been such great efforts by so many on my behalf that I want to thank the clear blue skies…but really…this is not a list! I have tried to think of ways to thank everyone, give all one great hug and not leave anyone out. But I can’t do that by naming.

All Cortesians that know me played an equally huge part in my heart and so I want to thank Cortes, the community, the spirit…the everyday people that make life and community so wonderful to wake up to.

So, in my own way of thanks to all Cortesians, I want to share a piece of writing. It is my way of giving you something back that I hope you will all cherish. It was written in 2001 and at that time it was fiction. I had no idea at the time what tragedy really meant. But in 2004 there was a tsunami in Asia and there I volunteered for 9 months. I am still in touch with the people of Khao lak and the many volunteers on my “Green Team”. I witnessed the sadness and the recovery… a very slow process. I will recover too, thanks to all your efforts on my behalf.

Thank you so much Cortes. I feel Blessed by you all!

Sailing Through the Night

A volcanic eruption is viewed as tragic. Our thoughts and emotions are clouded by the event. In despair we find it difficult to communicate with ourselves, let alone others around us. But by night, surrounded by darkness, the volcano brings us light. Our thoughts are clearer now, and slowly, aftergreat trial, we begin to see the light within. The viscous fog that revealed only shadows throughout the day has lifted. Now we see with clarity, how many and varied, the souls of night. The night is quieter, our thoughts clearer, the light becomes, for those who wait patiently, for the inevitable calm that prevails after the storm. And many treasures are to be found here, by the light of the volcano.

We need to be mindful of our precious moments. The zen of being alive. We cannot solve the world's problems in a day but we can live fully, within ourselves, by appreciating each moment, knowing the beauty of 'being' alive.By extension, the 'good will' that one finds in the 'peace of being', is communicated to others, in the simplest of actions… to wash dishes. One should accept 'washing dishes' as a simple act of life. The beauty is in the act. I am alive and therefore I can wash dishes.
The natural world is such a miracle in and of itself, that it should
demand our full attention. In terms of restoration, as a restoration
ecologist, my duty is to remind others of the simple beauty that
everywhere surrounds us, indeed, enables us. Just as we wouldn't leave behind a lifetime of dirty dishes, neither should we leave a lifetime of scars upon the land. We have a moral obligation to put back what we take, and leave for future generations a naturalness to each of their moonlit nights. We shouldn't despair. We should work with the land… in the light of the volcano.
Decay is integral to the process of life. We often find more life in a
dead tree than one which is surely alive. The 'coming to be' and the
'ceasing to be' is not a process leading to emptiness but rather the
redistribution of life itself. A life is but a tiny fragment of history as a
whole but each life is an equally important fragment, as essential as all
other fragments.

Restoration is also a process, a gentle nudge toward the formation of new life, new bonds, and new meaning. For each soul the moon alights but one side, casting a shadow about the other. We needn't dwell too long upon this darker side. We need only change direction, allow ourselves to feel the light. Restoration is first and foremost a direction. Chosen, accepted, communicated, alive, and fully illuminated by the light of the volcano.
Give me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes.
Neruda's words reveal inner strength. This strength comes from
within, and illuminates the acceptance with which we act and move
toward intelligent sustainable communities.
From my heart…thank you Cortes. What an amazing community!
Andy Wheatley, February 17th, 2014