I cried in Boise as my Seattle chapter closed. It was nailed shut and buried, and I knew I would never be able to open it again. That period of my life was one of discovery and amazement. Everything felt new and fresh, and I was in awe of simple things. On the road trip out to Seattle, I ran barefoot in the sand to the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake with a friend, bouncing off the grasses as they pricked our soles on our way to capture the last beams of daylight broken across the water hopeful and ready for adventure.
A couple of years later, on my move back to the east coast, I was caught in a thunderstorm in Bryce Canyon with the same friend. The clouds filtered the light, channeling the rays, breaking it up into a million different shades of red and orange and green across the distant Utah landscape. The wind blew, and pellets of ice flattened into pancakes on our heads and shoulders. The vastness, the gusts, the colors: they were all like a voice quietly screaming and loudly whispering that there is something at work much greater and much older than I.
Later in my travels back to Florida, I watched a hare hopping back and forth among the scrubby bushes in the clear, purple of the early desert sunrise in the small town of Hurricane, Utah while I sipped bitter, watered down coffee from a styrofoam cup just outside of my motel.
Several days after, just as the sun began to cast long shadows through the gray, dusty mists floating in the deep chasm at what appears to be the edge of the world, I saw an elk at the Grand Canyon; He was parched, slurping water from a faucet meant for water bottle refills. One of the many cameras photographing the soon to be famous elk was mine.
At one point, I sat out under the Arizona night sky, dry and hot, looking at the stars that looked like pinpricks in a black veil hiding the day behind it. I was wondering about everything but always aware of the threat snakes in the desert posed to my hands on the cotton blanket below me.
I drove through forests and deserts. I passed through the coolness of the green alpine forests, still covered in snow, and I passed through desert places covered in hard, cracked earth whose only disturbance was distant dust devils spinning on the horizon.
Much of the time, I was in awe. This world is a beautiful place, and I have the blessing of seeing it, hearing it, and feeling it; and all I have to do is stop and breathe and let it in. Sometimes, I think God is silent, but if I am still, I realize that he is always speaking to us through the beauty of his creation, calling all of us back to the garden, reminding us of what was and what will be once again.
When I travel, I fall in love with that place’s newness. It feels mysterious and untainted; it’s like I can experience the world the way it once was. Deep inside I have an ache to return to that place. My heart feels at home in that unspoiled place that’s just out of reach for us. It’s that unchangeable place just outside of our periphery that’s always fresh, beautiful, and bursting with life. I want to be reunited to something bigger than me, something that is unchanging and pure. I ache to find that kind of home for my soul to rest and be at peace, finally.
I think this is what we all want. This is what we are striving for and seeking after. But as we journey through our lives, we only ever catch glimpses of such a place in the good things, and in the beautiful things. It’s as if maybe God is calling us home. Maybe he is the creator of that ache and the maker of that thirst for beauty, peace, and rest.
One day I will finally be at rest and at home in the presence of God. But until then, I will thirst and I will seek, knowing that any goodness I see is from the loving hands of a beautiful God calling me home.