WITHIN, part 1

Within the dogeared pages of my adult memories is the image of a sunlit beach near Monterrey Bay, California.  When I search I can turn back to that moment, noting I have marked it in my mind so as to not forget.

The hour was early, the girls and I had been traveling for 2 or 3 weeks.  Mostly tent camping for our nightly shelter.  Leaving Minnesota and headed to our new life in Colorado, Doug and I decided it would be the perfect time for a lengthy field trip.  He would stay and wrap things up in MN, the girls and I would set off on the schooling adventure of a lifetime.  At that point in the voyage we had already traversed the wide open spaces of North and South Dakota with The Lewis and Clark Trail, Yellowstone, Sundance, Yosemite and Muir Woods - with all the cities, culture and museums in-between.    We had met with National Park Rangers, Artists, Museum Curators, Scientists and Homeless Wanderers.    Each of which taught us more than the collected books we had read in preparation for our experiences.  But going about such a trip, as the only adult/driver/tent maker/cook/teacher/trailguide/nightwatchman had taken a toll on me for which I was not prepared.    My passion as their mom and teacher was dimming.

The day before we had driven up and down Hwy 1 for eight hours trying to find a place to stay.  Later we learned that a long awaited Grateful Dead concert was on the docket for the evening and thus every hotel and campsite from Half Moon Bay to Big Sur was booked.   One after another I faced NO VACANCY signs, fending away my inquiries.

Why not turn back?  Why not just head back to Minnesota (or straight to Colorado) and call it a great trip?  Sure, visiting with the Oceanographers at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium were the plans for the next day.  And we still had all those Native American Studies in Arizona and New Mexico ahead, and the Grand Canyon, but why keep going?  After all, I was tired and resources were scarce.

I sat on the beach that morning contemplating why not turn back.  Of course I could not see what was ahead, I could only move forward on blind faith that it would be good, beneficial, rich.

The girls ran up and down the shoreline in the cool morning air, splashing in the frothy tide.  Vibrant, alive, full; in the midst of adventure.  I watched them as exhausted tears ran down my cheeks.

The trip had begun with such excitement and passion.  We each had an adventuresome spirit about the new places we would see and things we would experience.  Our fieldtrips always began that way.  Doug and I had packed the rental Jeep with care, Savannah was handling GPS navigation on my phone, Peyt had the bags of Trader Joes snacks ready to hand out at request.  But now all that zeal had dissipated.  I began to wonder why I had ever agreed to such.

Why not turn back?  We had simply traveled too far to do so.  Besides, we had found a place to stay for one more night.  It wasn't my ideal (a lonely tent site in an RV park), but it was ironically on Reservation Road, which the girls told me was the Lord's way of showing us He had His Plans for us.  Yes, our purpose for being on this adventure at all was to learn.    We were not going to drop off an edge, although my selfish perspective contemplated the possibility.  There had been so many trials along the trip already.  But, we would continue.  We would see this through.

I have often recalled the feelings and frustrations of that early morning, sunlit beach as my days have continued from that point in time to now.  We finished the trip well (now claiming it the highlight of all of our homeschool years) and immediately embarked upon a blind life of faith that continues to this day - no idea where we will be next.    It was as if that trip were a picture of things to come.  Where is all of this going?  What does it mean?  How will we know where to go?  Why has this exciting trip suddenly turned into a wearisome journey?  When will I find a peaceful, comfortable life again?  Knowing though, that comfortable is not the goal.  Knowing that peace has nothing to do with circumstance.

To continue to write here and not acknowledge this is where I am is to be unrealistic, and I might add, unhelpful.  If this blog is to be a place of Testimony then it is also a place of truth.    For most of us such questions come and come often.  And for those who deny it, I will offer them the benefit of the doubt.

Too many new and stressful things have been happening in my life since the moment recalled above.  2 years of piercingly intense and constant trial, 9 months living in a commune, now being back in and amongst the exact same intense trials we stepped away from for a brief time.   My children do not need me in the same ways they once did.  I am no longer formally teaching any subjects to them.   I live in a city my husband feels called to, but is currently unclear as to what exactly that calling looks like.  My inner personal world can absorb just so much.  And although you may reason that I should be able and ready to take it all in and respond with ease, I am not.    In a kind of numbness I am withdrawing to the only things I really know how to do with certainty:  designing, writing, being in nature.  Perhaps this artistic, expressive familiarity will restore whatever it is that is lost deep within.  Perhaps in this way I can process what it means to live a life of sustained Passion.

Like that version of me sitting on that beach, I have come too far to turn back.  But Im almost too tired to go on.  Yet, there is nothing behind me to go back to!  Heaven is before me, therefore the Best is before me.  This Truth refrains within me.

How did men and women of the Bible face these same agents of weariness?  Did they have an insight I have ignored?  What difference would it make if I followed their footsteps?