The long-view by Linda Miller, 30 year Harbin resident
Harbin’s Security detail has long been a dedicated peace-keeping operation. A 24 hour watchful team of 8 members, male and female, continuously circulating the property’s various hubs and as Harlan, the Security Manager, says with a chuckle: “Letting trouble find us”. It used to be a non-stop stream of mostly minor incidents and follow-up reports: guests locked out of rooms; noise at the pools; keys locked in cars. That sort of thing.
It all changed on a dime, after the Valley Fire exploded and we closed our doors. Soon after, a temporary Security Station was set up at “the Y”, two miles down the road, whose function it was to keep people away. There was so much unknown and the possibility of trespassing and vandalism loomed large. A 22 ft. RV was one of our first big purchases, to allow Security to continue its 24hr vigil and peace-keeping mission.
As soon as possible the RV was moved up to the main property, now sitting across from where the Gate House used to be. As things settled, in an unforeseen way, it turned out the Security function gradually transformed into attending to a stream of visitors (still we call them “guests”) mostly on the weekends. Though they aren’t able come on to the land for safety reasons, (because of all the construction and big equipment), like pilgrims, an average of 40-45 Guests per weekend stream here, to see for themselves; to feel for themselves; to be near the land and get in touch with the sadness of loss. Our loss of course, but meaningfully, theirs, too. That’s how Harlan describes it: ‘Why do they come?’ I ask. “To be in touch with their sadness”, he replies without hesitation.
They come from all over, just as Guests from “before” had: from Florida and New York; San Francisco and Denver; Korea; and Tai Wan; India, the UK, Australia and Spain. A ballpark estimate of about 2,000 visitors have come since the Fire. People wanting to remember their special Harbin experiences and to honor these with their presence and pilgrimage. It continues to touch us deeply to meet and greet this kind of devotion.
Usually these “Guests” stay at the entrance for at least 10 minutes; sometimes as much as half an hour. Our Security team has spontaneously, without coaching, developed an empathic welcoming reception for them and a quiet caring ‘holding space’. Harlan actually describes their “rolling up” as: “Precious moments, not to be squandered on the trivial and profane”. Further, he tries to help them see that Harbin wasn’t the buildings – but the water and the guests and the people –all still here. He also points out how Mother Nature is beginning to send her green bounty back onto the land, with hope and promise of more to come. And he lets them know how much has already been accomplished, tears coming to his eyes as he acknowledges the dedication, talent and strength of the current rebuilders.
Rarely does a Guest leave one of these encounters with present-day Harbin Security without asking for a hug. And invariably, they get to receive a gentle enthusiastic response. After all, that’s long been one of our main healing modalities. So, in addition to surveillance, that’s mostly what Security has to do with it. We’ll keep you posted with more unfolding as it emerges. May we remain in your thoughts and prayers as you do in ours.