The sky is darkening as dusk gives rest to the sun; soon, uncountable stars will dot the expansive universe giving faint light to this side of our sleeping earth. Scarce have I found such splendor, and rarer still is the notion that I can become one with nature – although, this gift seems more common in this place than any other; I feel connected to the cool pine needles strewn about the ground, as if I belonged here since birth. In some ways, I do, as a child of the great Pacific Northwest. So much is familiar, yet my eyes had seen not a stroke of God’s magnificent work in this place before now.
Something deeper draws me in here, and as I walked the quaint streets of Bend or inhaled the clean aroma of the canyons at Smith, I am sure this part of the world and me were connected before I ever heard her call me home. Perhaps, on some alternate path of existence I settled here, and my past lingers in a way that causes me to know I belong, or, God simply built in me a stronger reverence for His work than in most, and in that gift, I am most myself amongst the dirt and the cool mountain air.
In whatever sense or however it is so that I belong here, I feel already that leaving this area will be more difficult than I will show…
Rogue meows at me now, lifting his head back onto the couch to stare at me upside-down, reminding me how close proximity my hand is to his neck, and how unfortunate it must be that I deny him attention though access is so easy. My eyes move from where he lay to the window beyond the walls of this cabin. John is meditating now in a cabin a few feet from mine – the quiet practice of sitting to observe – he will be a beacon of peace upon his return, and I will look up once more to greet him with a gentle kiss. His observation of who and what he is, and who he wants to be, (always a constant work of light, forgiveness, and brilliance) is what most draws me to him, so I dare not begrudge the time he enlists to find his center. We have a delicious meal of curry and coconut rice to finish and serve for when they grace this cabin again. I am hungry now, but instead of eat, I drink a hot cup of Yerba Mate tea – “I inhale love, I exhale fear. I am love” – so says the brown paper package of organic Santiago’s Reserve Infusion; John insisted I try it, and now I am on my second cup.
Both of my hands are scarred with reminders of our time out at Smith Rock – the place John loved most in the world before he fell into my arms. Together we have indulged our bodies in the strenuous, breathtaking art of climbing up vertical cliffs. We encourage each other alternately as one belays the other. Accomplishment comes from the ascent, and no man can cause another to fail or to send; the magic in this dance is the will of the climber against the flow of the earth he is scaling.
Though I can try to explain the true majesty of a place like Smith Rock, I fear the meager words I may conjure will never fully capture the beauty of this spot of earth. As if angels could sing to mere mortals of the face of God, could there be something so telling that one might know this place without having seen it? John spent an entire year regaling of the mysteries there, and yet, my soul had known not even a glimpse of what happens when feet finally meet those dusty trails down canyon walls.
I knew nothing of the sentinel peaks and the river-carved valley between them. I knew nothing of the split rock where my hands would wedge perfectly, and the problems so diverse climbers of any skill would find suitable work for mind and body. In all my life, I have seen beautiful nature. Fortunate have I been to call the Northwest home – to look out my window and see Mount Hood or Mt. Saint Helens. I know natural beauty; most of my life has been about breathing it in to nourish my soul. And yet, no view has quite compared to what I saw when I first gazed out over the ridge at a sight so grandeur it pales the scenes of my childhood effortlessly.
I smile peacefully at how completely easy it is to surrender to this place. How I need nothing more than a moment here to remind me why life is so beautiful. It exists everywhere you may turn your eyes. So simplistic as the leaves falling from orange and red autumn-soaked trees, and yet, so magnificent that one’s soul may never want to leave should they truly appreciate the wonder of all God has made here.
My life is back in Texas. Thankful at least that where we settled in that state, at least we have some peaks and valleys, though, they are nothing but a slight hill compared to what surrounds me now. Children I call mine will grow up knowing Boerne as home, at least for a while…
It may just be a matter of time before John and I uproot and take flight to greener pastures – where nature reigns and calms the soul, and where children can learn the value of true effortless peace. We will escape the mundane routine of city dwelling and instead value what is easily the most gratifying way of life – deep within the boundless expanses of the forest, the mountains, and all there is to do here.
If I could choose, in this moment, I would never leave. My heart would marry her long-abandoned spirit that has danced in streams here for centuries, and again we would be home together. Amongst the evergreens, the pine, and the snow-capped peaks. Amongst the sharp edges of rock where my flesh rips from jamming it into cracks. Amongst the sweet songs of native birds, and the gentle lapping of water in fresh mountain streams.
For now, we must find a different kind of peace in another life, but yearn will I – ever-longing – until we return and this place becomes our home. The love of my life knew this place before I ever knew his name, and now, he has taken me and allowed Central Oregon to capture my soul… If I do not board that plane on Saturday, I so easily blame this on him.
He should be returning soon. Ready am I for a kiss and supper… Then stargazing, wrapped in a quilt from days long gone. I thank this place for welcoming me, and look forward to my last days here until we meet again. Bittersweet that soon it is ending – but part shall we not, for we have become one, this place and I. Breathe in deep a sigh of gratitude now, part from these thoughts, and join the world again… A better woman for having come here – a truer soul for having known a place as amazing as this.