Furrows of sprouting winter wheat
So here I am back in my beloved high country, greeted by fall changing to winter with snow sticking to the ground on my trip north from Denver. Having arrived in late evening, I spent the night at a hotel near DIA, then caught a shuttle to Cheyenne where my good friend, Roxanne, was on hand to greet me and take me to a hole-in-the-wall purveyor of absolutely delicious Mexican food. It is good to have this comfort food of home, familiar aromas and spices. Their green chili compares favorable with the best I've eaten at the Lariat and Su Casa in Rawlins.
It is good getting reacquainted with my dog boys, Fargo and Rebel. Rox did some great training with them, so our first long walk around the wheat fields was even more enjoyable. After a month of little physical labor, it feels right to spend several hours raking leaves and hauling dead branches to Rox's growing compost pile. I like this opportunitiy to get in the work zone and have time to think some about the last several days.
While waiting for the shuttle at DIA, the thick fog made it impossible to have any sense of direction. I couldn't see the mountains; there was no sunrise--all very disorienting to me. After the last month following a travel itinerary with planes and trains to catch and classes to attend, the fog seems a fitting metaphor for the upcoming month or so. I have some notions of what I'll be doing, but the day to day, hour by hour is not so clear right now. Catching up on the Bible reading I missed while in transit, the familiar verse from Matthew 11 grabs my attention: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." This time away has been restful. I'm aware that my face and carriage feel different: more relaxed, happy, rested. Oh, what a grace that is. But I am also very glad that I have some additional time before returning to Laramie and St. Matthew's and getting back in the traces again.
Back to my habit of early morning walks with the dogs, I can't help but notice the difference in the wheat fields. When I was last here near Carpenter, the wheat harvest was just finishing up. Those fields are now stubble, resting in fallow. And the fields which were fallow then are now sprouting green with shoots of winter wheat, row upon row stretching to the horizon.
Roger Nash, author of the short story, "The Camera and the Cobra," writes about how the landscape shapes us, saying, "It seems, sometimes, as though they (landscapes) do their thinking through us. A landscape can awaken understandings, in us, that, at the time, we'd mistake as entirely our own, supposing we're in complete control of having them. Later, we realize that, but for being in that place, we'd never have arrived at those ideas...As nature speaks to us, awakening new mind-sets, we become more fully and richly ourselves...We fully come home only as the fuller selves we can become: otherwise, an undiscovered, unexplored part of us is left wandering."
So much of life is cyclical. Birth, death, rebirth; labor and rest; sorrow and gladness, disoriented and lacking direction and moving on with a goal in mind. A friend recently wrote me with the observation that following this time away I will be different, having seen, tasted, experienced and explored the world in new ways. She said that those who remained at home, living life in a familiar context would be different, too, having experienced things without me--music, worship, forums, crises.
I'm not sure what these differences are or what they will mean. It is like the disorienting fog, but as the way becomes clear, I'm sure that once again we will see that to change is to grow. And so the cycle of life will continue in the vineyard of the Lord where we live and move and have our being. Perhaps new varieties of grapes planted where old vines flourished will yield a fine, nuanced and complex varietal that pleases the palate, tickles the nose and delights those invited to taste and see that the Lord is good.