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October 13, 2017


Statement on the Fires in Napa and Sonoma

October 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

This week the sun has been a dull red ball, the air dense with smoke, and we feel a pervasive concern for all those impacted by the fires in Napa and Sonoma.

Photo by Julia Ten Eyck

The web of connection is broad; there are so many to hold in our hearts. News is passed along, person to person, or via emails and social media—who has been evacuated, who is safe, and who has lost their home. One person sheltered for hours in a shed as the fire storm raged outside. He described the roaring of the fire, loud as a train, and the sound of cars exploding. And then walking, afterwards, through miles of devastation, having lost everything but his life.

Faced with the profound vulnerability and impermanence of life, kindness and generosity arise like the plants that burst forth only in the aftermath of a fire. The immediate response is, “How can I help? What can we do?” SFZC has registered as an emergency volunteer center with the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership ( As soon as they contact us with a need, we will coordinate a response. Please see below for recommendations where you can personally volunteer and make donations.

A monk asked, “What is the teaching of a lifetime?” Yunmen replied, “An appropriate response.” And so we continue our daily practice, in readiness, completely available to meet whatever need arises. We can offer food and shelter. Sometimes we offer words, sometimes an ear. We offer our prayers and wishes for the safety and well-being of all those threatened by the fires in Napa and Sonoma.

The key recommendations we have gathered for finding out how you can help in the Sonoma and Napa fire relief are listed below. Because relief centers are being inundated with offers and supplies, they are asking that the public work with them in a coordinated manner, which can begin with checking for information on the websites listed below.:


Linda Galijan
President, San Francisco Zen Center

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Web Editor
    Oct 19 2017

    The San Francisco Interfaith Council has sent a suggestion/invitation “Ordained Clergy/Mental Health Professionals Asked to Self Organize as Pastoral Care Teams for Fire Victims” –

  2. Oct 24 2017

    Having seen the devastation of my beloved Northern California, on the news, from here, back in Boston, my heart goes out to all those impacted by recent fires. Prayers. Blessings. Healing. Comfort. Brendan Ben Feeney

  3. Judith Gilbert
    Oct 30 2017

    The American Red Cross has a course to become a Disaster Spiritual Aide, which I recommend those who want to “self-organize” as it plugs into their structure. I saw many of our Buddhist sangha members out in the shelters, especially in the first week.

    In Napa, my home was 2 miles away from the fire line, but I realized that if the 50 mph winds came back up that second time on Thursday, that I had 7 minutes to get the dog, the go-bag, and me into the car and drive far enough down our one of our principal streets. Traffic on that street is bad enough that usually takes 15 minutes to get out of town….

    We can bring stability, flexibility, and a bright presence to those who are in deep suffering, and the benefit is to us as well.

    Keep a go-bag of 7 days of clothes and food, good walking shoes, a couple gallon jugs of water, n95 masks, first aid, and a radio in your car — is what I learned this month.

  4. Richard Benton
    Nov 21 2017

    My former stepmother and friend Claudia Zbinden lived in Santa Rosa had her house completely burned to the ground WOW


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