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 (cvnl.org). 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