The Ruby Inside: A Universal Story from the California Fires

I had not turned on the car radio for about 4 weeks and I felt to switch it on just before arriving home the other day. The timing was perfect to catch about 2 minutes of an interview with a man who recently lost his home in one of the Californian fires. This is what I heard, somewhat paraphrased:

A man in his 70’s is describing the moments when fire was all around his house and the front gate was engulfed in flames and would not open… eventually he gave up on trying to break it down and realised he couldn’t get out. He says that is when he called his wife and said goodbye to her… but somehow, he did manage to get through the gate and drive through the smoke and fire to safety.

The house burned to the ground, as did most of the town – a town, ironically, called Paradise. In the interview, he and his wife have been sifting through the ashes and they have just found his wife’s wedding ring and her rubies. The man says pointedly to the reporter “It turns out rubies don’t burn.” At this the reporter asks how he is doing psychologically. He answers, “Excited…” There is a quiet moment before he continues. He says, “It was a gift,” followed by another quiet moment. He then compares his home to a storage unit. With a calm yet joyful voice he continues to explain, “A storage unit is full of un-made decisions; having my house burn has cleansed me of all my problems.” The reporter seems a bit flustered and stumbling at this point and she asks, “But now you have new ones, don’t you?” The man replies with lighthearted laughter, “Yes, sure I have some new ones, but you know the saying, ‘It’s like turning a page in a book’? Well, I’m turning the page.”

It was audible to me that what the man shared in this interview was his deeply felt truth.

In his voice I felt a clear sense that he had awakened to something precious in himself and about life, and he was enjoying the feeling of being free of so many old things and constructs that had been weighing him down. I could feel him marvelling at his feelings around alighting on new terrain and making a new beginning in his life. His voice was full of appreciation – appreciation that the fire had offered him an extent nothing else could have: the chance to start afresh with more clarity and a greater chance to do things differently.

Even feeling all of this, I was tempted to write it off thinking, “Oh, he must have money and that’s why he can afford to have a good attitude: he can afford to be philosophical because he can start a new life without the stress of homelessness and destitution…” – and on a very practical level this may be true. On a very physical level, starting from scratch with no money is a very real and tremendous difference to getting disaster relief or an insurance cheque to rebuild…

But then I remembered the stories I’ve heard of people who have been through unbelievably horrible things: slavery, having their children taken away, people who we would say have ‘lost everything’, and yet they not only returned themselves to a loving life but a way of being that had joy and which inspired those around them. So, what if, in facing his imminent death and in feeling such a cleansing away of all his old possessions, comforts and indecisions, this man totally understood the symbolism that gems don’t burn? What if, as huge, daunting and massively challenging as it can be to house and care for our bodies, the thing this man has just re-discovered is even greater?

And if there is something greater, deeper and more settling than the security of a home, if there is something that brings with it a sense of joy and freedom, it would be worth connecting to, no? Do we need a fire to help us feel it or can we simply make the choice to start letting go of all that holds us away from feeling it: all that keeps us in the density and smallness we have accepted as normal, and simply re-connect with the Love that we already are?

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller

We live in a security-based society… and yet the wise words of Helen Keller expose this concept as being mostly an illusion, as something impossible to hold onto. Isn’t the striving for security one of the many ways we try to fight nature? In these few words Helen Keller makes the point that we cannot actually avoid danger and that trying to outsmart it or protect ourselves from it cannot actually work. What I see is that orienting our life around efforts to cushion ourselves from danger and discomfort manifests its own guarantee of certain dangers.

I know that when I have favoured security over following what I felt deep down was true for me, it has brought with it its own set of ills: constructs which were detrimental to my ability to live my life in full. What if all the many comforts and protections we use expose us to a slow and seeping kind of danger where we end up existing instead of embracing life. I know that when I have felt insecure, I was focussing on getting my security from the outside and this contributed to my body being in levels of stagnation, hiding, contraction and slow decay. But once I sought and discovered the sense of wellbeing inside me, I have been able to accept and embrace the uncertainties of life with a level of integrity and vitality I did not know I could have before, where growth and evolution are a natural and ever-expanding process.

We need to understand with great compassion where our need and search for security, comfort and safety comes from, and I would say that our world’s problems of greed come from the same place, so it is worth exploring on many great accounts.

We need to know the True warmth we can live from when we feel the wholeness-of-our-being that we all hold in our core. We need to reunite with the steadiness we have when we feel part-of-it-all. We deserve to remember a known way of being where we feel our connection with all others and where we feel the support of an explicitly Loving Nature that is inside and all around us.

We need to know what life can be like when we are in touch with the deep wisdom within ourselves instead of feeling empty of who we are, shaken with the insecurity the illusion-of-aloneness leaves us in, weak with anxiety and reactive to life. We need to see others doing this so that we know we too can choose to live from this loving centre where we can very naturally stay with ourselves, feel the Love and Joy of who we are and know how to respond to life in each moment.

By Jo Elmer, Domestic Magician for Shared Living Spaces, Oakland, CA USA

Further Reading:
Our Diamond Within
Shining Like a Diamond
Appreciation in What I don’t Have

67 thoughts on “The Ruby Inside: A Universal Story from the California Fires

  1. “And if there is something greater, deeper and more settling than the security of a home, if there is something that brings with it a sense of joy and freedom, it would be worth connecting to, no?” Through Serge Benhayon re-connecting me to the teachings of the Ageless Wisdom I have been able to the love I am that is far greater than any security of a home.

  2. I love the nudeness this blog invites me to feel. The experience of raw clearing of all that is not needed anymore. This connects me with the essence of Life. Lightness and simplicity is what remains after all..

  3. Jo, what really stands out in this blog is your love for people and joy that you felt for someone who was able to see the inner beauty of something in the middle of what seemed to be a complete tragedy. This is the gift in this piece and shows us all that we can see that same inner essence in others even if their outer behavior shows otherwise.

    1. True Michael.
      I meet so many people these days who are giving themselves permission to love the person underneath the issues and beliefs and I see how this gives others permission to do this too…
      and we are just dying to simply love each other!

  4. The way we see and understand life is the true jewel. For so many of us, reductionism and cynicism have been accepted as ‘that’s just life’. Yet as this story shows, there’s so much more on offer if we are willing to take off the familiar blinkers of comfort.

  5. When we are open to life and do not react or have attachments or investments it gives us more freedom and space within to be able to truly feel and understand what we need to in order to move forward. It is gorgeous to hear what this man felt and how he has embraced what he has been given. Truly inspiring for all, especially when we realise there is more to life than possessions.

    1. Yes, Vicky so much more. Once we realise this, no possession could ever replace that deep connection within that settles and holds us with a love that is divine.

  6. We need to know the True warmth we can live from when we feel the wholeness-of-our-being that we all hold in our core’. To feel this deep connection with our soul is exquisite and unmatched by anything outside of ourselves.

  7. What a great read. I have really been considering how we are trapped by the need for security and yet we need so little in life when it is peeled right back.

  8. Reading this I’m reflecting on a couple of occasions when I’ve had a home taken away. Different circumstance but the result was I could never live there again and one was especially dear to me. Letting go of my attachments has been a process but I’ve always been open to the fact that it had happened so I could let go of the past and live more fully in the present.

    1. Sometimes the big challenges in our lives turn out to be opportunities and the willingness to see with this space and perspective in the moment could make ‘difficult’ situations simply what is happening and therefore simpler to deal with.

  9. Often, it’s only when we feel we’ve lost everything, that we begin to appreciate what is of true value in life.

  10. Many will relate to this, as I do. I remember waking up after a hysterectomy, aged thirty-nine and feeling relief, pressures and pictures I’d placed on myself about having children gone.. Instead of experiencing a deep sense of loss, I felt a load lightened had set me free.

  11. ‘gems don’t burn,’ this says it all. What remains when the physical is harmed or destroyed is our inner essence, our sense of true self, always with us and cannot be damaged regardless of what happens.

  12. Awareness of our true essence is just a whisker away and this blog reflects this to us all. Whilst some are aware and working on it, some are experiencing the deepening and confirming gift that a ‘seeming’ tragedy brings. This has been beautiful to feel and read and I deeply appreciate all the deepening comments that have unfolded since.

  13. I love this blog, I keep coming across it as I browse through – the wisdom is immense. We hold on ever so tightly to how we want our lives to be, carve out an image and strive to achieve it – until a fire happens and burns it all down. What a blessing, what a freeing experience – unfortunately it has to happen through a disaster sometimes, but when we find the ruby in the dust, when we taste freedom we have a game-changer.

    1. Yes Viktoria, ‘we hold on ever so tightly’ to how we think we want things…things that do not help us feel our true sense of security… In the opposite way, fire can behave as a very true form of Love, offering us a chance to get free of what keeps us from our own truth.

  14. I have spent a lifetime trying to achieve a place called home but what if I’ve got it all going on already and I just complicated the matter? That’s what it’s seeming like today. I was very attached to a place and voluntary uprooted myself. Walking around near where I live now, but a place I’ve never been to before, I’m appreciating the only barriers to feeling at home are the ones I put in place. My home is with me and this is very beautiful to let go of finding the place that makes this so. Reminds me of how I used to search for the one, the partner that would complete me!

    1. Karin I love this little pot of gold in a comment
      “I’m appreciating the only barriers to feeling at home are the ones I put in place. My home is with me and this is very beautiful to let go of finding the place that makes this so.”
      If we carry our home/ love in our heart with us wherever we go what a blessing we are giving to all those that we meet along our way. True love is the most beautiful gift to share.

    2. Karen says “My home is with me…”
      This statement sings to my heart because I have had enough glimpses of this truth to know it is so,
      …but I am still working on feeling it more of the time…

    3. “I’m appreciating the only barriers to feeling at home are the ones I put in place.” My home is my heart and the only thing(s) that can keep me away from that are the walls that I have erected for false protection.

      1. Yep like our looks. We spend an inordinate amount of time, money and energy thinking about and trying to improve our looks but the thing is, if we focused on the qualities in life that are permanent then our looks get taken care of by themselves because we are imbued with beauty from within.

      2. If we were to place importance on things that are permanent then we would restore the natural order to life in place of the current disorder that currently abounds.

      3. Yes Alexis, a little know truth shared: ‘if we focused on the qualities in life that are permanent then our looks get taken care of by themselves because we are imbued with beauty from within’. Many people I know, look and feel younger than their biological age without the aid of cosmetic cover ups and procedures.

  15. “We need to know the True warmth we can live from when we feel the wholeness-of-our-being that we all hold in our core”. Beautifully expressed Jo, and one knowing that will absolutely change our lives, so just imagine how life would be if we we raised to know it from day one. It is what we hold within “our core” which has the power to fuel our life in the most extraordinary ways.

  16. To me the biggest danger is that we fell for comfort and security over a life of deep devotion to true love and I don’t fully understand why we did this.

    1. And of course comfort is the biggest lie of all, sold from day one as being ‘It.’ it intoxicates the human psyche and moves us away from purpose. There is no comfort in comfortable lives, beneath the surface lies deep dissatisfaction and disease. The biggest evil is our own inability to discern truth from lies.

      1. Well expressed Kehinde and the veil that clouds our ability to discern is comfort.

  17. What you write here is truly beautiful. We have forgotten that it’s possible to live life and be loving. That it doesn’t all have to be a hassle, a struggle. We have forgotten that there is a natural beauty in all of us, a lightness and joy. That we don’t have to be stressed or worried about everything in life. If we remember and bring that in our lives, life will be very different.

  18. You have tuned into something very inspiring and wise Jo, thank you for sharing your insights about security, and the beauty of connecting to the inner heart where the space is so grand.

  19. That interview would have touched the lives of all who heard it. A spark of light and wisdom that breaks through so many beliefs and fears. The confusion of the the journalist highlights to me how stuck in our patterns we are and that we would have been more comfortable with the man being devastated and needing rescuing.

    1. Yes, right in the midst of this city working and struggling to recover from the fires this interview offered a different perspective, a different understanding of what could be on offer for some people… for us all?

      And yes exactly, it may be very common for us to feel more comfortable with a victim mentality than a person who is allowing themselves to be liberated out of it.

  20. When we live from truth there is a beautiful responsiveness to life and when we don’t live from truth then our reactions to life are either pre-planned, ordered, orchestrated and controlled or knee-jerk. When we are responsive to life this then sets up a call and response to and with life that is alive and vibrant but when we live from automation, hesitancy, reaction or control then life has no choice other than to dish up the same response in return.

  21. A very solid truth has been shared here that for eons we have neglected to accept, for the truth has and will always reside deep within all of us, the only thing required is for each person to recognise, deeply honour the absolute beauty that is within and allow this love, our true power and strength, to enlighten and guide the way we live in our lives. Something that no one can do for another. However, as Jo shared, the living of our ‘Ruby Inside’ needs to be lived by those who have the absolute knowing and appreciation of this way of being in our world, so all can see it as a way of living that can be not only attained, but constantly deepened, appreciated and surrendered to.

  22. When the fire with-in is reignited it can take the most calamitous event as you have shared Jo, and in the-awaken of our Soul-full-essences we do not react in these situations so we feel the blessing of what heaven has to offer.

  23. Wow, what an amazing blog, great topic Jo. I hadn’t really looked at security but the feeling within me was that security was fear based and more like an encasement or prison, something that was actually deeply insecure because how can we invest in something that will always change and to some degree we can’t control or influence? We make an investment in the outer material world being a certain way, and not in relying on the innate wisdom and power we have within ourselves.

  24. Really loved reading this. Security is never far from my thoughts and it’s wonderful to start letting it go and living from my truth, discovering that and not hiding it. Letting go of regret and starting a new page is possible any day.

  25. Jo I was caught by your words that we have accepted the smallest of lives, we have reduced ourselves so much that we are on a conveyer belt getting through life just to make a living rather than actually living all that we are meant to be. We are so lost we do not know just how lost we are. And then we get the wake up call which this gentle-man had which has brought him back to what life is truly about.

  26. Really enjoyed reading this today, thank you. Given me food for thought about where I seek security and hold back.

  27. Security, comfort and safety all share the same bed as greed. Certainly something to ponder on and makes you think twice about which choice you make.

  28. True security is the knowing that you belong to something far grander than this physical world, far grander that is found in the stars – and that when you connect to this and know your true source then this is all that is indeed needed to handle whatever life comes to deliver to you. The soul works in practical ways and knows how to deal with the most mundane and most extreme situations, and this is the true ‘security’ that we all seek – the council of the Soul and its holding that is forever asking us to realise the All that we are.

    1. So well said Henrietta.
      You have summed up a huge revelation in these few sentences.

      I feel that more and more people are starting to re-connect to what you state here that:

      “True security is the knowing that you belong to something far grander than this physical world, far grander that is found in the stars- and that when you connect to this and know your true source then this is all that is indeed needed to handle whatever life comes to deliver to you.”

      But this is still a far away concept to so many as we have been living away from this knowing for so long…

      Dis-comfort is the loving gift we experience when we are living/accepting less than Love because it guides us back to the Truth.

  29. Jo, this is an exquisite blog that really does expose the illusion of security that we have built around us in life. We see our homes as permanent, we see our jobs as secure, but in reality these can all easily fall away (natural disasters, reduncancy etc). Same for relationships – be it family friends or spouses – these too are not guaranteed for life might have something different in store (deaths from accidents, or cancer or another illness or incident etc). When we invest in this security aspect of life, we often do so with an entitlement and we then expect that due to our investment, the thing we have invested must be guaranteed in some way and then it is hard to accept if this does not actually come about. But life is and has always delivered that which we need in order to learn grow and evolve. Security does not teach us that, but keeps us ingrained in habits and patterns that say no to growth and true evolution.

    1. Entitlement. – now there’s a thing. Having expectations and pictures feeds this sense of how “things should be”. When life turns out differently to what we expect we often look for someone to blame for our predicament. Rarely does humanity look to its choices, something I have learned to do from Universal Medicine – and continue to do so.

    2. Well said Henrietta, we give our power to our lives needing to be a certain way, but it’s actually certain that the pictures we are invested in around material security and relationships won’t play out that way. We can set ourselves up for distress because we don’t foster our soulful connection and true inner power, which is a way of living that is loving and responsive and viewing life as opportunities to grow and evolve, instead if we don’t receive the expected or hoped for outcome and we can crumble into devastation.

  30. There is no such thing as security, as you say. I got caught up in the wild fires in Portugal a year ago and we had to evacuate our property. Due to the foresight of the owner there were no catastrophic injuries and only one barn was destroyed. Many lost everything and some their lives. We never know what will happen. So best to live each day to the full, with love. I am learning to appreciate myself, those around me and what I currently have more and more.

    1. It can be so easy to feel like a victim of life but we can choose to accept what happens and appreciate all that is in our lives to appreciate.

      One way is such good medicine while the other always brings with it more trouble!

  31. I loved reading your blog Jo. Staying in touch with the deep wisdom we have inside every single one of us is worth so much more than the busy-ness and striving for security and reward that we see out in the world.

  32. Dear Jo Elmer – I found reading this article so very endearing, touching the depth within. Thanks for sharing it with us all – so many key pointers, wisdoms and truths felt in my body.

  33. Thank you Jo for a wonderful anecdote and the man’s words of wisdom that remind us of the importance of surrender and letting go. As the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum, and so it is guaranteed that when we make space by letting go (or having things taken from us) then more is able to come in.

  34. Thank you for sharing Jo, so often we can see things one of 2 ways either disaster and devastation or an opportunity for a new. And the more we embrace what is on offer the more we get to see and appreciate the gift we have been given.

    1. Tho in my experience it may take a while – even years – for the appreciation that such an opportunity can offer. Coming to study with Universal Medicine has enabled me to fast track this learning. .

  35. Beautiful sharing Jo – in my experience huge life events offer us a huge chance to let go. We often say they are horrible or terrible things – but are they really? Or is the true horror our stubborn persistence to ignore what is shared with us there?

    1. What a gorgeous question Joseph.
      “…is the true horror our stubborn persistence to ignore what is shared with us there?”

      I have realized there are constant opportunities being offered me to learn what I need to learn so I can move-on and grow… and for sure, I have brought about more horribleness by my own stubborness than all the things I was reacting to ever could have…

    2. Love your comment and question Joseph. Has me stop and ponder just how much of my ill experiences in life are due to exactly that, ‘a stubborn refusal’ to see and embrace the huge chance that is offered.

  36. Jo, really love this blog! Lots of gems in it. ‘What I see is that orienting our life around efforts to cushion ourselves from danger and discomfort manifests its own guarantee of certain dangers.’ I can so relate to the stagnation in comfort.

  37. Wow, this is a gem and the deep wisdom of this man is very touching, offering us all a lesson in acceptance of a greater All that far surpasses security and looking after self – first, second and third.

  38. Such a lovely story. There are so many situations in life that we often see as ‘bad’ like illness, loosing a job, loosing a home or breaking up with a partner and many people can look back and see those moments as turning points or times when the so called ‘bad’ event turned out for the better. This is definitely something I’ve been noticing in my life – my attitude or judgement that certain things are ‘bad’ and certain things are ‘good’ – but actually I can see them all as opportunities…

    1. Yes, what we make of every situation in life affects not only ourselves, but everyone around us. Our attitude to life events is all important. Looking at disasters in life as opportunities for change casts a whole new light on events.

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