I write this as the sun slowly sets behind the Channel Islands that loom out from the Santa Barbara coast. From my desk on the second floor of this retreat center, I see the mountain behind me turn into deeper shades of gray green and black. Soon, an almost full moon will rise and create havoc with my star gazing from the bench in the ancient oak grove. So far… looks like nothing has changed but… For the first time in 13 years, I couldn’t take the 4-mile trek to the top of my mountain. Mountain lion sightings are posted and the warnings read “Don’t hike alone. No small dogs. No children. Carry rocks in your pockets.” Rocks? The climb is hard enough!! Go with someone? Never found anyone crazy enough to come with me. No children? Ummm—I might be an entrée size for the big cat. CHANGE of plans! It felt strange, uncomfortable, and somewhat silly to substitute power walks up winding roads for the hidden beauty of live oaks, creeks, and hardscrabble rocks. But there was an alternative. I saw plants I had never seen, smiled at folks I would never have encountered, and still felt reasonably justified in my exercise to sit the rest of the day and write. CHANGE. For most of us, we enter 2009 facing massive change. The routes we thought were safe for our investments have been severely compromised. Our jobs might have vanished or been reduced. Industries are shattered. Israel and the Gaza burn in ancient hatreds that all cry out for CHANGE. We pin our hopes on a new Administration to lead us out of this horrid mess. Truth be told, unless we remember the Depression, we’re faced with a never-before-seen-scenario that feels uncomfortable, strange, and –if we let it—downright frightening. What do we do about this? Yes—WE. WE all hold some small piece of a solution. No one person is going to hold our hand and take us another route. We must find alternatives to what had become so routine. We must greet each other on the way and share whatever we’ve learned. We must stop dwelling on the past, on blame, on wistful thinking, on wayward mountain lions and instead focus on what CHANGE can be made. Won’t feel the same. Won’t look the same. But if we face CHANGE together, the walk into the future might astound us with amazing possibilities.