A chilly rain fell on the patches of charred black forest floor along route 321 going into Gatlinburg, TN. The spindly bare branches and deep evergreens were muted by low hanging clouds, evoking the grief of hundreds of families struggling with the desolation wreaked by the recent wildfires. Just a few weeks earlier, freak winds sent flaming embers flying through the tinderbox of Smoky Mountain National Park, achingly close to the end of a 5 month drought. Hundreds of firefighters struggled heroically to contain the blaze. They were the first in a long line of volunteers who would dedicate their time, resources, and services to helping their neighbors in need. They were able to save the majority of the town, yet could not save it all. The “perfect storm” conditions fueled the flames and fourteen lives were lost, as well as hundreds of homes and businesses.
To further complicate the situation, she was sharing a small apartment with another family, subletting from the official renter. On the fateful day of November 28th, she was driving back from a doctor’s appointment with her children when the roads into Gatlinburg were closed. After the ash settled her home and all of her documents and possessions had gone up in smoke. She had no mail, no passport, and no proof of residence. When I appealed to the foundation’s director of operations, he calmly but firmly directed us to the nearby corporate offices of her employer, and gave us the name of a woman who would be able to write a letter for her confirming her address. This simple but knowledgeable support ultimately led to her receiving the first of six monthly checks for $1000.
Though it turned out there were more volunteers than spanish speakers that day, my wife and I were glad to connect to others in our community who share a similar sense of how to live out their Dharma in the world. Events may toss us from side to side on our journey, yet the clearer we are about who we are and how we contribute to the universe, the farther we’ll be able to reach.
Because we at Kula Collective believe that exploring and expressing this dharma is our deepest role in this life, we’ve decided to transform our Karma program into a Dharma program. Take a look at our new Dharma Grants offering. By submitting your Dharma Project, you will be able to earn up to 50% off any Yoga Teacher Training or Transformational Retreat. Most importantly, we hope it will guide you as you put together a project that will express your Dharma in your own unique way!