My goodness. (God's too.)
I've found a new coffee shop in the little mountain town here. It's my favorite so far. The room is mostly windows so you can bask in the blue light that leaps up from the hills and fills your eyes with quiet. They have books, shelves of old curios, and strong cappuccinos. My sort of place. My, but it's been a full couple of weeks. Things so beautiful I want to sing, and things so hard I still wonder what hit me. I'll tell the beautiful first. Community Life - I am gladdened, in ways I could not know I needed to be, by the gift and challenge of living with many people. Family style meals and communal prayer, classrooms and intense debates, someone always available for a hike or game, these are gifts that seem rare to me in modern day life. On the serious side is the strange (and occasionally stressful) good of never being able to hide anything. And with this, the impossibility of isolation. If you are in pain, someone will notice it. You can't disappear or disengage. Here, you laugh a lot, you deal with a lot of your issues and insecurities (because there's nowhere else to go, especially in the wilderness) and you learn to love, to engage, to join in with the life of continual creation and thought.
Wilderness & Stars -You'd have to live pretty darn far in the country to see the stars we see here. I spend most of my evenings and walks between the cabins with neck craned back because the black is unbroken by any light and the stars are a host, a dance, a brotherhood of light that pulses and sings overhead. I can see the milky way. I can lie out in the grass and find shooting stars almost at will. I can see the sheen of planets and the literal sparkle of the bigger stars. I'm learning constellations. I've always daydreamed about living somewhere actually cut off from civilization (most of the time) but I never actually thought I'd do it. Well, here I am. Daily, as I wake to my cliff-filled window, as the aspens start their glimmering to gold, and the scrub-oaks heat to their slow burn, I want to cry aloud in excitement. I've made it.
Night Hikes - Oh my. One of the guy mentors started to lead nighttime climbs up the mountainside behind our cabins. This may be one of the most joyous evenings I've ever spent. The hike I joined was impromptu - we were all riled up after a movie discussion, so we grabbed flashlights, enlisted Jeremy to guide us and ended up with twelve adventurers heading out about 10 o'clock. It was the stars we were really after - a clear view from the topmost point we could easily reach. But the climbing was a breathless, muddy adventure. To get to the outlook, you follow a winding path up through a fir wood to a slope where you use a rope to pull yourself up to the next level of climbing. At that point, you "sasquatch" it and go straight through the pathless scrub oak. So we did, filing one by one through the shadows, listening for the crunch of wild animals in the bushes, stopping to ogle the bear tracks.
We made it to the first outlook - a rocky ledge that probably dropped farther than we really wanted to know. We managed to cram all twelve of us along it, legs hanging into the dark while we sang the doxology...again. This is quite the repeated tradition. Then, half of us went on the rest of the way, fighting bushes, skirting the stabbing yuccas, getting slashed here and there by resentful scrub oaks until we made it to the utmost high point with a 360 degree view of the sky and valley. We craned our heads back, dizzy at the navy bowl of blue and the vast bright and dark of sky and it's host of stars. We lay flat in the cool grass, with our heads just tilted to the horizon. A harvest moon rose, a golden, blood-tinged hunter's moon that brooded up out of the mists and hung like a sign of war or glory amidst the smaller stars.
My Girls - I love them. They are full of life, they are ready to learn, and they help me to love God in a sturdier way. As I look for answers to their questions and lives, I am forced to encounter God for myself. I pray for them and they pray right back for me. We perch together in my room and eat chocolate and pray and study Scripture and it is a very good thing.
Gah. And now the hard stuff. I don't love dwelling on trouble, so you get the quick round version. My Gypsy car totaled. (No one, thank the loving Lord, was hurt.) Eardrum ruptured. Sleepless night. Vicodin (!). Temporary deafness in my right ear. Well mostly. And dizziness. Apparently, inner ears have something to do with balance, so to my own amusement, I'm a bit tipsy.
I'm sure a chastened and insightful and thoughtful (you can smile) post will come out of all this. A lot is going on in my heart as I process these things, as they enter into the way I view my walk with God. But for the moment I will just say God is present and faithful. The staff here are incredibly kind. And the stars are as beautiful as they were before it all happened. I am learning what it means to walk through trouble and still know that "The Lord is my keeper," and to know it in a way that keeps fear at bay from my heart. There's a lot to learn in that realm and the temptation to fret is real. But I am blessed, blessed, blessed to be here. I love this job. I love these people. I love this God.
Signing out and sending love, Sarah.