How Coming Together Heals

In times of community tragedy, those not directly impacted can feel emotions of what is known as survivor guilt.  Today like many of you I grieve with those who lost their homes in the Lake Christine wildfire.

As a former evacuee of the Coal Seam fire, I understand how hard it is to “sit and wait.”  I also understand what it means to be one of the “lucky,” ones.  For those who have been spared, we often feel mixed feelings of emotion, relief and at the same time guilt, knowing others have not been as fortunate.

In the wake of the devastating wildfire, that rocked our community this week, the outpouring of love and support was incredible to witness. We are blessed to live in a community that is known for banding together when things get tough. Maybe it’s  “Rocky Mountain Spirit,”  but for me, it’s always been something different; it’s the mark of this incredibly special place that we live and why I live here.

As a psychotherapist, I understand how reaching out to help another heals not only those in need but also becomes the balm that heals our own hearts as well.  We often feel helpless watching our friends and neighbors suffer. Reaching out to lend a hand, allows us to feel vital, a part of something bigger than ourselves. In my practice, I call it the circle of healing. The circle of healing is one, which many of us felt this week, as we offered to support another.  One woman shared, “I reached my tipping point, I could not sit back and watch from the sidelines anymore, I had to do something. I feel so much better now.” As I listened, I nodded my head in agreement, as it was exactly how I felt.

In the midst of this weeks disaster, people didn’t wait to be told what to do; they looked into their hearts, showed up at shelters, food banks, and churches and asked, “What can I do?” There was a point when we were told that there were more volunteers than evacuees at the shelters.  After living here for 30 years, that does not surprise me. Once sleepy bedroom communities of Aspen, the Valley floor has grown and so has the influx of people and diversity. What I witnessed this week was that with the all the expansion of our Valley, the love and sense of community spirit has deepened. We truly are one big Valley floor.

I think most of us will never fully understand the efforts of our local firefighters and first responders this week. I’ve heard more than once and have said it myself, “It seems like nothing short of a miracle that the towns of Basalt and El Jebel did not fall to ashes. It’s nothing short of a miracle that no lives were lost.”

Thank you to our local firefighters whose tireless efforts saved so many of us from harm.

Thank you to all our community first responders who put their lives on the line every day.

Thank you to my friends and neighbors who rallied to move people, animals, horses and those who could not help themselves.

The Roaring Fork Valley is the place I call home. It’s this exact community spirit that keeps me here.

A Story About Healing and Hope After the Lake Christine Wildfire

Listen to a story by reporter Christin Kay about Art, Healing and Hopes response to the Lake Christine Wildfire