remembering

It’s been two years since we lost Kyle. I got the phone call while surrounded by new friends at a work conference. I felt like I had left my body for hours afterward; I don’t remember anything I said while I wept talking to my mom or friends that day.

But of course, this isn’t about me. This is about the bright light that Kyle was. The joy he shared with us all. His intense curiosity for this world. The huge way he smiled. His deep heart for others.

This world was not easy for him but he didn’t let that inform the way he lived and loved. He worked so hard to go his own way. He made art because he had to.

Grief is strange. Some days I pick up my phone to text him, almost forgetting for a moment that I can’t. Some days I see him so clearly in the mountains or sunset or in the face of another and I smile or tear up or both.

All this to say- love those you love, hard. Work to have conversations with those you might disagree with. Work hard, make art. Live like Kyle.

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giving thanks (these days)

Earlier this week, I hopped off a plane after time on the East Coast and marveled at the bright yellow of the larch the whole drive home. All the mountain maples on our property have already lost their leaves and the lake is furious with Autumn’s wind.

Last week I spent time in the company of dear friends, eating amazing food, hiking familiar trails and enjoying quiet evenings chatting in our rented cottage. It was such a perfect reset for my weary heart.

I’m so thankful for community which spans the years & miles,

For the ceaseless beauty of this place, which is sometimes quiet & other times directly in my face,

For solo evenings in new towns,

For familiar drives,

and for words that stir my soul. Please read The Sun and her Flowers (Rupi Kaur) as soon as you can.

Last night, my roommates and I spent a solid forty minutes listening to old pop punk songs we loved when we were younger, and we still knew all the words. We laughed and laughed, played a round of cribbage and laughed some more. What a gift it is to be surrounded by love in this place, year after year.

I’m looking ahead to some traveling for work, the shoulder season when winter tempts us to mountaintops & a sweet friendsgiving in Palouse. What are you thankful for today?

Take courage.

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.

 

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. 

early autumn in MD

I’ve been back home for a few days, vacationing and visiting friends and my family. It’s been so nice to be away from work for a little while (even if I keep checking my email #guilty). 

While the leaves are changing in Montana, the last of the wild flowers are still blooming here. We took a walk on the Antietam National Battlefield the other night and enjoyed the beautiful meadows they maintain there. I’ve walked over Antietam my whole life but never tire of the rolling hills and farm fields; it’s one of my favorite places to go when I’m home. 

giving thanks (these days)

It is hard to describe the emotions of a day here at camp, from stress to joy, from exhaustion to elation, from a centered heart to a scattered mind- each minute is different. At the end of each day,I usually sit and watch the lake for awhile, focusing on the joys of this place. 

Lately I’ve been grateful for falling asleep after seeing these views, 


and for waking up under the big sky.


For the tiny gifts that this earth produces with little help from us, 


and for the people who I get to live out this wild summer alongside. 


What are you thankful for today? Be brave, summer friends. 

space

have you ever flushed a raven from a tree? heard it’s wings beating with such force against the blue sky? they don’t do anything quietly, always announcing themselves, taking up space, urgent in their requests and warnings. i’ve been watching them, studying persistence and learning to voice my own needs with clarity. to hear my own wings beating, commanding space, announcing my place. when was the last time you heard your own heartbeat? decide what you need

and go.