aftermath, october 2

 

These were the fresh words in my journal on the morning after the Vegas shooting. I grew up with guns, shooting cans in the backyard with my Granddaddy. I enjoy target shooting, and have a healthy respect for gun safety & for those that use guns to provide for their families. But no one, NO ONE, should have access to something that could potentially put 8 bullets in someone in one second. There is no private citizen who needs that.

I emailed these words to Speaker Ryan and my own Senator this week. Have you reached out to yours?

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autumnal joy

This week has been true-to-season Autumnal, cool and cloudy with that unmistakable earthy smell on the breeze. I made the first lentil curry of this season tonight; it finally felt like the right time.

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Earlier this week, I meandered my way up to Hornet Lookout (60 miles on gravel roads). After I passed Polebridge, I didn’t see another human soul. I hiked in the stillness of that vast wilderness, deeply aware of each snapping branch and flush of feathers. I scared a grouse out of its hiding spot, its wings pushing air forcefully behind them, shockingly loud in the quiet. He and I looked at each other for a moment, when he landed, considering what the other had to offer: it considering a threat, me pondering it’s perfect camouflage against the fallen lodgepoles.

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To be honest, I was anxious in the wilderness on this little walk in the woods. Being that far out, that alone, I couldn’t get my mind to rest. I spent much of the trek uphill yelling and singing to myself to let any critters know I was on my way. I’m not often so afraid in the woods, and it’s not a feeling I enjoy. I hurried my way through the hike, gazed at the views for a bit, then scurried back to my car for lunch. I realized what was bothering me wasn’t the wilderness, the threat of bears or flat tires, or solo adventure; it was being truly, actually alone for the first time in months. My internal monologue was the loudest thing in my head, which is unusual in my busy, sensory overloaded life. It was a good exercise in leaning into discomfort.

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This season is always one of overwhelming feelings for me.

Sheer wonder at the world surrounding me: how the leaves turn to death so boldly, the definition the first snow gives the peaks, the glacial blue of the river

Intense emotions surrounding change: how the fall always brings new roommates & coworkers, a busy working season when I’m exhausted, the tendency to want for movement & exploration AND the need to be still

Relearning my way around the weather: learning to love the cold air again, my asthmatic lungs heaving with the chill on the breeze

Leaning into quiet: how camp is silent in the evening, how I have time to myself again, what it looks like to make a map of aloneness, how alone isn’t always lonely

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In all of this, I feel most surely, joy.

This is the land that I love. I have never been more smitten with Montana than during larch season, and this one promises to be a good one. I hope you find the places that take your breath away & feel like home.

 

Take care, take courage.

summer’s end

We made it, through every up & down, through every fit of giggles & every shake of tears. We have done what we set out to do.

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Thanks, God, for soul friends & sunshine, for shared experiences, tears & laughter, for anger & joy & everything in between. Thank you for the depth of feeling we live into together.

(I wrote this in my journal on the last day of camp; it’s the most honest reflection I have of this past season.)

Summer always races past, even though the days feel impossibly long and full of work. I miss the sounds of the camp season, but honestly, it gets easier to leave it behind each year. Not because it’s not wonderful (it is), but because I feel more at peace with it. I learn so much each year, and I know the next summer will be here before I know it. Big shout out to my year round coworkers, without whom this job would be impossible. Bigger shout out to the summer staff, who constantly inspire me with their huge, brave hearts.

saved by grace, sent to serve, with good courage.

We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

 

shift/ change

Autumn is swelling in fury this year.

Montana is burning. My heart is overwhelmed with the tension of the natural presence of fire vs the agony of watching people lose their land, crops, livelihood, health. Thank God, we haven’t lost any more first responders this season, but I watch families anxiously wait for the snow to fall and can’t imagine what it feels like to have someone out there. ¬†Three firefighters deployed their shelters this weekend, thinking they were trapped, until the wind shifted and they walked out, unscathed.
Mother Nature is screaming, roaring, raging this season, and I have been meditating on the fact that humanity has set her up for this, in our disregard for her health. There is a direct correlation between heat and fire; the hotter the atmosphere, the higher the fire danger and the harder it is to control. We have to realize this. We have to work harder to slow and reverse the effects of human caused warming.
Last night was the first visible sunset in at least a month, as the wind shifted south. The color lingered, amplified through the smoke, for nearly half an hour, the whole ridgeline glowing ember red. I don’t know how to hold the beauty of that moment in contrast with the reasons for the beauty. So much of this season is balancing two sides, holding tension, working through it. It feels important to write about, if for no other reason than to honor the feeling.
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Autumn has brought joy, too.
The joy of watching dear ones marry those they love. The joy of cool grass under my feet during an evening stroll at home. The joy of quiet nights at camp, the shoreline to ourselves. The joy of new challenges and new responsibilities.
Camp was quiet this morning and I passed turkeys, deer, rabbits, squirrels & chipmunks as I walked to my car- all of them gathering food for winter. The squirrel caches are huge this year; I hope they’re right about the coming snow totals.
The larch will begin to lose their needles soon, but only after they blaze golden against Autumn’s sky. They have given me the gift of courage- a reminder that pieces of us have to die to be resurrected in a new season. Giving up jealousy for joy, trading discomfort with grace, embracing change instead of fighting.
Every season feels like my favorite in the Flathead, but really, I think Autumn is the real winner. Hoping for rain & looking forward to the quiet. Happy Autumn!
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summering

This season is the busiest part of my year, and often the most overwhelming, but with that comes great, great joy.

This morning, I’m sitting at the picnic table outside the camp office, which is my favorite spot in the summer. Music is drifting from the Art Barn next door, where Jonah is busy cleaning for the next group of campers. A family of geese are making their way up the lawn from the lake, the babies nearly 1/3 grown, their feathers darkening by the day. I can hear cooking campers in the herb garden, seeing what chive blossoms look like up close. I sent off ranch and basketball campers just after breakfast- their mornings’ spent elsewhere, exploring and playing.

A huge robin is sitting in the tree above me, scouting for a morning snack to share with her babies. The lake is swelling to full pool and the nights are staying warmer. The solstice is this week, when the sun will linger til nearly 11 o’clock. Last night, I watched the most brilliant rainbow dance between the pines in the late evening, while campers settled in for their first night.

The rhythm of camp life is in as many ways routine as it is sporadic. The bell rings each morning at 7:30. We sing, we eat, we pray. Campers come and go, staff learn a new set of names each week, the moon rises a slightly different place each day– community continues, the earth continues, joy continues.

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“you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace, the mountains & the hills before you, shall burst into song & rejoice,

and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands, for you. ”

We sing this blessing to our campers each Friday, at the end of the session. As the summer sinks in, I pray you, too, go out with joy.

 

xx, k

last light on the swan river


I tried my best to get out to ski last night but it wasn’t in the cards so I settled on a quick walk along the “Wild Mile” of the Swan River. It’d been a long, kind of tough day so my mind was spinning a thousand miles an hour, and I felt very restless- a feeling that usually dissipates when I’m outside. I wandered down the trail for awhile, feeling anxious and unfocused when I came around a bend and saw the setting sunlight beaming across the river. I climbed up on a snow bank to get a better look and marveled at the river’s midwinter strength and beauty. As the sun set I walked further down the trail, watching the trees sparkle and sway in the breeze and finally felt some calm. 

This Lenten season I am committing to practicing gentleness and forgiveness, with myself especially. To intentional daily movement, to finishing books I’ve started reading, to screen free mornings. 

I believe in adding to our lives during this season, joining Jesus in the wilderness by challenging ourselves to be better servants and more wholehearted justice seekers. What is lent calling you to this year? 
Be brave, spring is coming. 

giving thanks (these days)

What a week, huh? It feels like it’s been months of struggle already but it’s only been 11 days. I spent much of last week driving across Montana, attending the women’s march, hosting a youth event, recruiting summer staff at three different colleges and getting on the ski hill as much as possible between all that. 

I’m grateful for the brilliant blue sky, reminding me that the light always returns, 

For incredible sunrises & reminders of hope, 

For new views, sore legs & hard working lungs, 

For road trips, the wild Montana skies & comfortable silence, 

For partners in the resistance (just 5 of the 10,000 in Montana alone!)

For laughter in ridiculous situations, 

and all the miles we travel together. 

In the midst of all the hurt, anger and confusion I felt at the news last week, I was reminded over and over to be joyful. Joy is resistance. Joy is fighting. Joy is hope. For me, joy is playing cribbage & laughing together after a long day. It’s trying every free sample in Costco. It’s hugging friends all over the state. It’s dancing to a terrible rapper at a dive bar. It’s singing to the sunset on the way home. 

Fight for joy. Be brave. Love y’all. 

winter song 

Bits & pieces of this season. 

The lake is frozen the whole way across on the north shore, deer carefully making their way across in an attempt to find a small pool to drink from. Camp is covered in snow & last week the moon rose so clearly it cast shadows across the shore. I’ve been outside as much as possible, skiing on Big Mtn and Blacktail & hiking around camp. It’s warming up a tiny bit this week, maybe we’ll get above freezing for a few hours. 

Thankful for slower days, stillness, the calm of a gray day, the electric joy that comes with the sight of blue sky, sunsets over snowscapes & the clear face of the winter moon. 

giving thanks, these days

This autumn has been a whirlwind in the best and worst ways. I have been completely filled up with love through one of the most emotionally difficult months of our country’s recent history. I have had some incredibly encouraging conversations with dear friends and allies this month but still feel gutted by the knowledge that the president elect holds such deep oppressive values. I know we will keep fighting, together, but some days it feels difficult to have hope. 

In the midst of this, I’ve been so grateful for new adventures to incredible places, 

for the pure joy that comes with fresh snow, 

for the wide open spaces of the wild, 

and for all the places we call home along the way. 

Remember that you are loved, important and worthy, today and always. Practice gratitude & be brave, babes.