Hello friends, I’ve spent the last few days traveling with five of my six children and I’m all filled up with the magnificence of every bit of it. I am still in the midst of the Love series here, I am currently contemplating “Love hopes”, and I know the views I am treasuring in my heart within these travels are all coming alongside this pursuit of Love, so for now, can I just tell you about some of it? I’m ready to burst.
On the kind of days when all of my people come back to the home we have made together, at the end of the day, something inside of me sings hallelujah—there is a restful praise in my bones. On the kind of days when I drive away and into the mountains knowing I will be a traveling home for my tribe—something of the same sings glory, there is an unbounded joy within me then.
My recent days have been full of such glory, I’ve driven over 1200 miles into and out of the mountains of Washington and Oregon, following gorge and river right as they stretched into rolling golden hayfields. I’ve gasped over the foothills that look like ripe pregnant bellies sun-bathing just for the delight of it and they have delighted me.
Right at about the point I filled to overflowing with it all an advantageous viewpoint appeared and I welcomed the staying power of standing still. I have needed so many times “to catch my breath” and then realized how oxymoronic it is to say these kinds of wonders take our breath away when, in truth, it is in these spaces in life that we’re likely breathing more deeply and are more stirred than common.
I’ve wondered about the wide open and vast Indian reservations￼￼￼ with highways cutting through them and zigzagging into the Blue Mountains, all while watching the road we would soon occupy lay itself clearly before us like a stairway to climb and secretly wishing my own life-paths could be so clear.
Somewhere along the way we crossed the 45th parallel north, this is often called the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole, but I was comforted when I learned that the true halfway point is actually 16.0 km (9.9 mi) north of the 45th parallel because Earth is an oblate spheroid; that is, it bulges at the equator and is flattened at the poles. My pleasure may be called sardonic but it’s just that as you grow up the things we think we’re so sure of keep failing, we have to keep learning that even our best equations get misconstrued due to “bulging”. A full life is beyond equations and steeped in protruding yet ever inviting mystery.
A full life is more elegant and more harmonious in design than a hope of lack of blemish could ever sustain. This gives me hope…
And then, just like that, there was a theme: swollen pregnant belly mountains and surging equators, imperfect spheres, and flat places that are difficult to impossible to inhabit. So much wonder in it all that I almost missed because I was afraid to leave, afraid of what it might mean on several accounts. Yet, there I was wading into a story that doesn’t hold a flawless nor precise shape and one more time I remembered, neither must I.
I prayed about whether to go or to stay and wanted in the most severe way for an answer from heaven to fly through my window and land on my desk in an envelope. I only got one answer though, “I want you to know Me.” Passing Burnt River and Bright Valley and all the mythical sleeping giant mountains I kept turning these words over in my mind, sometimes singing them into a song, other times just entirely distracted at how we could really *seriously* just be in middle earth right now because, I mean, the Pacific Northwest…
It unfolds into the western mountainous regions of America the Beautiful with sloping grassy-side￼￼￼d mountains contrasted directly next to it by what looks like organized folded layers of falling laundry mountains on my couch except it is of rock in Provo Canyon￼. The size of the rocky gorge sides in Utah…I only have an intimate reference to compare it to from Oregon but it’s much smoother and more deeply red there. Then, just like it began, it ends and I think about how nobody gave it permission to be different or to change. It just does change from deep canyons to wide and gentle rolling hills, and it is so right.
Wyoming, I love this state’s name and now that I’ve finally been here I feel like it’s name says everything I ever needed to know about it, I just didn’t know it yet. Its flatlands are spotted with cattle ranches but also with wind farms to gather the wind ripping across the plains, turning it into electricity and it was there that I realized what I was trying to say when we talk about the breath leaving us in awe of these sites. Maybe in our effort at giving it all language we’re touching on the reality that something is gone, “breath-taking”, but in that expression also missing how the whole process is giving as well, fueling, becoming new—electric inside of us. Oh to be a turbine!
The melody in the song of this trip—wind. I’ve often thought of “air currents” but it wasn’t until this summer swimming and wading in the river feeling the water temperatures shifting within the currents that I realized how much we could feel the very same thing in the air…currents! Phraseology such as “change in the air” has come to life inside of me. I don’t know what to do with it yet to be completely honest, but I know it’s important. I know that learning a creation is one way of learning a Creator.
Crossing Wyoming I wondered about the lives of the cattle farmers, their families, all the people populating these stunning but obviously harsh lands, considering how we are all shaped by our environments, and I became eager to meet more of them in this land of buttes, plateaus and mesas￼￼—the west lands of America where you can see the evidence of light playing across the fields and hills by watching the shadows of the clouds race over them and over us. I’d only ever spent time thinking about this in terms of light, but now the wind over the land is letting me lean into the bosom of the Creator, no, it’s carrying me there too! And I’m beginning to understand “I want you to know Me.”
I looked up just then and saw cirrostratus clouds winging cumulous clouds (I think?). In any case, a “perfect day”, but again imprecise and definable only by mixed terminology and I noticed again now it has become more okay than ever that I am a bag of mixed metaphors too. My mixtures are giving me wings and though some may never see it or care or want…me, I see it so much more clearly here—the more I know me, the more I know the Creator of me.
We’ve crossed the continental divide now, even though I know there is an elevation yet to be seen, soft blowing breezes have turned to fierce whipping wind, gusts of 40+ miles per hours foretelling the change of seasons the way I have come to know the rare lightning storms of Washington heralds the same kinds of seasonal alterations. The children were seeing owls, antelope, hawks, horses, cattle, and more than I’d ever known it before I saw an earth teeming with life, I held it in my heart, and the life inside of me was teeming too.
A bruised reed He will not break.
A smoldering wick He will not snuff out… Isaiah 42:3(a)
Thanks for letting me share with you. Since I wrote all of that, we paused our trip Friday night, rested and ready to begin again, we traveled onward, and have now completed 2000 miles! woo-hoo!! further up, and further in…hello Kansas City!
P.S. I love to hear from you, in the comments, in an email. Where are you? Thank you for traveling with me!
Soundtrack of the trip so far has been Josh Garrels’ recently released album Chrysaline, here’s a sample for you to listen in:
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To have a companion in prayer, check out my book, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor here.
Read next post here: Learning How to Take a Walk (A Walk to Remember)