update feb 24: hard close and flying over the mountains
One of the things I was afraid might happen did happen yesterday, but at least we were prepared for it. Old Brother Emmanuel fell in his cell and by the time we got to him he was totally disoriented and in some pain. Since we have no phones, through a series of walkie-talkie relays and with the help of our neighbor Ken Harlan we finally got Big Sur Fire here, and then a helicopter from Fort Hunter Liggett transported him and me to Salinas. He’s got a fractured hip and is having surgery today. He is very confused but beautifully joyful. He is in very good hands, and with all that is going on down here, he is probably in the best place possible, with some days of recovery in the hospital and then probably some weeks in rehab.
Down here on the Big Sur: a very stern warning was issued that anyone who wants to evacuate Big Sur has to do so by 1 PM today. Then they are doing a “hard close,” with absolutely no access, so we are told, for two weeks. This is mainly to work on the slide that is just to the south of us, called “Paul’s Slide.” It’s the most fragile spot on the coast. We monks met this morning and all opted to stay put. We have food and fuel, a minimum staff, and we feel safe. We still have no phone lines, but we do have walkie-talkies and our neighbors are setting up another radio transmittal through our property for all of our safety issues. The Big Sur Fire knows that we are here and stranded and can get here from the north, and the helicopter can get here from Fort Hunter Liggett in a flash if we have any other kind of emergency.
One moment of beauty: it was a stunning flight over the Santa Lucia Mountains yesterday, breath-taking to see them from that point of view, the north faces all covered in snow. Also obvious what a wild and self-mediating territory we live in. One can only bow in deep respect and reverence.
We are quite fine, using this as a new and deeper monastic experience. There is a quiet joy about the place, even among the staff, who have been marvelous. Thank you so much for all your love, support and prayers, which mean more to us––and to me personally––than ever before. And more than ever, please count on our love and prayers as well.