For Peace: another Love Letter

Recently I was deeply distressed and disheartened as a prominent voice on our island attempted to incite division and harm against a subset of our community. Vashon, this is not who we are.

Simply Woven – illustration excerpt by Jane Valencia

And honestly, this is not who any of us is. Let us all take a collective breath. Let’s regroup and reground in both the beautiful nature of the locality we call home and the best of our natures.  Let’s take some time and recall what we have loved most about our communities.

The ideas and updates we exchange in check out lines. The amazing nourishing foods and lovingly prepared dishes we offer at our potlucks along with servings of tales, witness, advice, and dreams. The events we birth, the good work we do, our unique character as a community and as intersections and rings of them. Our original inspirations and intentions whenever we  gather to start something new. Our support of one another when we’re ill or grieving or lost.  Our grit, grace, and gratitude.

Let’s remember how we came to be here in the first place, and why we’ve stayed.

We’re here on planet earth to live a life of love, and to find our way back to that soul ground no matter what. We are neurologically wired and genetically sourced to live as both unique-in-the universe expressions and as an exquisite  tapestry of earth community weaves. We are here to come together in difficult times, and share out onto a wide and colorful blanket an amazing array of gifts: Insights and reflection from our spread of backgrounds, perspectives, skills, expertise, artistry, imagination, hard-earned wisdom, intellect, and above all, our compassion and commitment to one another as we are.

Ideas reclining on a rug of possibilities – stamp art by Jane Valencia

We are not meant to arrive at a one-size fits all solution to a problem and deliver it, but to ponder the constellation of considerations and concerns and to listen carefully to what each one knows is important to say. From mutual respect and all ideas on the table, we can arrive at a true understanding — grand yet familiar, with wanderings alongside, away, and between — of how we may best serve one another.

From here we generate a network of strategies that leave no one out in the cold, nor vilify anyone. Which neither seeks to bully and coerce one another to change their minds when they have already said ‘no,’ nor aims to destroy livelihood as part of some perverse notion of “it’s good for you.” Which will not tarnish tolerance and respect with “… but not in your case.” Which strives to walk our talk in all we do and with everyone we meet — even when we don’t like them!

When we inevitably stumble or discover our blind spots, we do the necessary work of finding our way back to our core, our Sacred,  our integrity, our Source.  We reach out with humility and apologize from our very roots and heart, and mean it. We  commit to doing what we can to make things right.  We renew ourselves to a devotion that is more generous and strong, far-reaching and intimate, potent and wild than we previously understood.

Solar Earth – stamp art by Jane Valencia

This is the way to true community health and resilience.  We are vastly diverse and powerfully creative.  We are synergies and individual notes of exquisite beauty. Make no mistake: whoever and however and wherever we are, we all care.

Islanders, my family, my friends,  this is who we are.

Kinfolk and Kind.  This.

We have always been hearth to one another.  And for us collectively it’s been a very long and hard day.

My dears,  the fire is warm and the food though simple is delicious.  There’s a song and story to soothe our minds and call the wee birds who had flown away in fright back to the nest that is our hearts. Let us know ourselves:  we are home.


“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

P. S. Please enjoy my short harp video, “Peace.”

Dear Vashon: Island Magic!

An illustration celebrating Vashon from a long time ago: “Sanctuary Origami” – art by Jane Valencia
The Wild in Witness – photo by Jane Valencia

During these past months, I’ve had times where I wondered if what I loved about my island home was gone forever; this has been deeply painful to my heart. Lately things have been shifting in that regard, and I’ve been feeling like I’ve woken from a disturbed sleep or from a spell. I began to meet pockets of what I love in unexpected places, sprinkled through the island. Then today, I had a series of experiences that let me know that island magic is alive and well. In fact, I had one of those alchemical wild encounters absolutely meaningful and personal to me, that had me floored and delighted that it could happen.

Through my years on this island, I’ve enjoyed unique constellations of these experiences, and now I know for sure: the island speaks to me. The lovely thing about it, is that my fellow islanders are expressions of the island — the island flowing through and mingling with who they are as unique people. This is part of the miracle.

If you are an islander, you know that the island speaks to you too, directly, and in your particular language and mythos. My friends, the world is an astonishing, beautiful, holy and mischievous place. You will find the wild and the wondrous right outside your door, on forest trails and in post office lines. My friends, neighbors, colleagues — you who have chosen to live here, you know that the island called you. We are here at this time for a reason. Let’s remember who we are as a community, what we love about living here. Let’s call it back if it seems to have blown away. I assure you that what you love is still circling above the trees, is speaking companionably in the waters, is reaching up to meet you from the forest floor and waving hello along the sidewalks.

If you need to reground in the magic of Vashon Island, take some time to watch the 2016 performance: “Heart of Vashon – Telling Our Story.” Over 150 Islanders submitted their stories and poems. From what was submitted, a script was created to celebrate the spirit and character of this island known as Vashon. I’m honored to have been in this show.

Heart of Vashon – Telling Our Story

Enjoy, and let it remind us of who we really are: A community+nature that is vibrant, creative, celebrates differences, down-home, curious, problem-solving, playful, caring of one another, resourceful, loving of the earth and Sacred Mystery in any form, quirky, healing, and possessing grit, grace, and gratitude. Such a community is absolutely powerful medicine, and with it, we truly do not need to fear. With it, we have each other’s back, no matter who we are and how we choose to live our lives.

What brought you to Vashon? How is what you love still alive and well? How might we bring back what may feel lost?

Clouds are Angels – photo by Jane Valencia