"It's hard to notice gleaming from the sky when you're staring at the cracks."
- A band I will no longer publicly cop to having lyrical knowledge of
Every now and then, I find myself perusing old posts I have written. I do this because when I spend time away, I miss writing. I also wonder if people miss my writing. I go back to find justification to write again. Sometimes I find completely pedestrian thoughts and structure, so I put writing off further. Other times, I find something that makes me feel proud or prompted. Every now and then that thing is a line from a band I won't publicly name, provided by a friend. Today those words are confirmation that in recent months, I've spent far too much time looking down.
I fall in love with words. Embarrassingly, they are oftentimes my own. Increasingly, I'm coming to acceptance with this phenomenon. When some bit of encouragement or wisdom creeps it's way into my head and makes a home there, I like to think of it as a gift. I don't consider it my own creation. I reason that if it was totally worthless, I would hopefully throw it out. Thus, I am left with this phrase, idea or theme stuck in my head, believing that I should both embrace and share it.
On Friday Morning, I left Oakland for a backpacking trip in the Hoover Wilderness just north of Yosemite. I left with excitement and trepidation, as I committed to spending 96 hours with a friend I respect and anticipate learning a great deal from, but actually know very little of. It can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out how to fill (and not fill) 96 hours of silence with someone you barely know. I also felt exhausted and overwhelmed, with two weeks of travel in my rearview, jetlag dominating my body and an important meeting on the horizon. We didn't get hiking till three o'clock. With 7.5 miles to cover and packs weighing around forty pounds, I felt a bit discouraged. As the hike went on, our conversation found it's pace, but my feet didn't quite do the same. I was exhausted and felt beaten. As often seems to be the case, the last leg of our first day was a long, uphill pull. As my final defeat loomed, the lake where we would camp appeared below us, highlighted by the setting sun. I took in the colors and the shapes and felt my eyes begin to water. We set up camp and listened to silence and the wind rustling the trees and water. We stargazed. I laid with my back on a rock curved perfectly to fit me. I appreciated the moment and dreamed of what the future might look like. I heard a whisper I couldn't make out.
Our time went on. We saw more beautiful lakes, we invited each other into our lives. We shared and affirmed. Despite not having service, I habitually checked my email. I found a message from before our departure confirming a partnership between HOPE and a church I had been working on. I was blown away by generosity. We camped by a river, we sipped bourbon, I watched shooting stars flare. I experienced the undeniable knowledge that God is all powerful and loves us, a knowledge I most strongly understand in nature. In the silence, I heard the whisper again, audible, but still not comprehensible.
We returned home. I had an encouraging meeting with a group of people who are in love with HOPE and excited to see what we can do in the Bay Area. I hopped on my motorcycle, now my sole means of transportation, to work and visit with more friends I had not seen in awhile. I avoided a very close call and came out unscathed. I got encouragement, I did crossfit with some amazing people (I know). We worked hard and sweated together. I shared foodtruck dinner with a great friend, whom I had been missing, along with his family. I hopped on my bike and rode home. As I crossed one of the amazing bridges spanning the San Francisco Bay, I looked over my left shoulder to see the sun set. Over the wind in my helmet and the musical roar of my engine, I heard it unmistakably. People are loving, understanding and generous. The earth is beautiful. The world has so much to offer. You have so much to be thankful for.
There is Unspeakable Beauty.
Now go live in it.