What would it be like to dance with mountains? To sway with the majestic alpine wildflowers that dot the valleys, or to listen to the whisper of clear snowmelt as it cascades to lower ground over a bed of stones smoothed to perfection? To kiss the pine needles, to breathe the scent of ancient bedrock mystery? Or to walk in step with the peaks that have been stripped of life, or the valleys that have been clearcut and left for dead? The toxic rivers, the tundra fracked of life, the homeless topsoil that can’t hold on? How do we love our failed expectations alongside our beautiful victories? How can our defeats, our poor choices, and our monsters co-exist with our grace, our goodness, and our love? How do we embrace them all and hear what they have to say?
Dance with mountains.
Continue reading “To Dance With Mountains”
When I hear the words “the blue of longing,” I am transported to a dusty red four-speed Toyota that doesn’t have air conditioning, and I’m driving west across South Dakota. It’s August and there’s a cassette tape playing since no radio stations will tune in without static. After miles of corn fields give way to miles of grassy pasture; after the Missouri river valley gives way to rolling tall grass prairie; after I cross through the barren beauty of Badlands spires reaching toward the sky, after the signs for Wall Drug say, “wait, you missed it!”……after all of that I finally come to the place where the Black Hills loom in the distance, and I marvel at the sudden change in the horizon. There is a reason these mountains are called what they are – when they appear in the windshield, it is like looking into layer upon layer of coal colored refreshment against the brightness of a late summer sky. I am astonished at the majestic expanse that commands my sight lines and the welcoming darkness of what lays ahead. Surely there is myth and magic to be found once I arrive at this oasis. And then at some point as I continue on the westward journey, it’s gone. Once I reach the point where identifying individual hills and trees is possible, the black has vanished and only the landscape remains. They are just hills, now – beautiful and sacred as they always were, but the mystery that came with the space that was once between me and the place I sought is as gone as the distance that was closed to nothing. And when I look up and out past the place where the hills give way to grasslands again, I can see hints of the next place that I seek, and the color that tints that desire to arrive. The myth and magic remains just around the next corner. Continue reading “The Blue of Longing”
An excerpt from Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth – available wherever books are sold.
About a month ago, we pulled into the driveway after a great five days up along the north shore of Minnesota, still reveling in the tonic that is Lake Superior, anticipating a low key few days of unpacking before returning to the usual work schedule. We ambled down the path from the garage, happy to be out of the car and walked into the house to a putrid smell and reports that the septic alarm had been going off for an indeterminate amount of time in our absence. Awesome. Turns out a little creature of some sort had chewed through the cord that powered the septic pump, shorting it out. Could have been much worse. All and all and easy fix for Nick, and we were back in business. But the smell….remained. For another day we pondered just what could be making the kitchen stink. Eventually we followed some clues and found a decomposing mouse behind the fridge. Again, awesome. But we got rid of it, gave the cats a pep talk and life carried on. Then I got a call that my credit card number had been stolen and there was someone in Texas trying to charge a trip to Thailand on my Visa. And the grass needed to be mowed and the garden weeded. Then the water heater broke, one of our indoor cats got out and was lost for a day and a half, and my retreat co-leader broke her foot and couldn’t come to the retreat we had been planning for several months. And then the road construction workers cut the phone lines that run to our house and we were down phone and internet for several days…and still are, truth be told. Not a big deal, really, except for when you work from home calling people and working on the internet. (And that’s just what happened in my own little privileged bubble – the events happening in tandem with my own mini dramas in terms of racial inequality and war and planetary destruction would make this little list much, much longer.)
It’s been a rough month. Continue reading “Bits of Astonishment”