Sunday, November 8, 2015

First Week Here at Big Bend

Looking down towards the Rio Grande
I've been here a week and am slowly finding my way around. With the help of the wonderful Park Rangers, particularly, Chief of Interpretations, David Elkowitz. He's been a plethora of knowledge about the spaces, wildlife and plants that grow here. One hike with him is like taking a class. Bless him! He's worked for the park system for 30 years. I was able to ask him some questions about the National Parks and his opinion on the importance of the parks.
Most of the Rangers I have met are not stuck to their iPhones or technology. They bike and hike in their free time. In fact, I believe they look at nature as a friend. *Believe me when I say I feel the irony of this as I type this blog on my laptop.* I find myself torn between wanting to hear from my family and wanting to be forgotten, lost in the open space of no wifi.
I have been struck here in the desert that it is we, those in the city, who are in the desert. We are dry for the open and wild spaces.
Kendrick left on Wednesday morning to get back to our girls. It was a tough day as I was crying (we haven't been apart this long before nor have I been away from my three girls this long). Just a word on my husband here. He's been such a strength to me these past weeks. He would say just the right thing for me to get my mind around something. He has kept me focused and helped me to let go of tension and fear. When I'm around him I feel safer. After he left I went in the van and just drove down the Maxwell Scenic Drive and pulled off on a shoulder to watch the sunrise. It was amazing to be so quiet. I literally heard flapping for several seconds before I saw the Raven fly over and caw. I've never heard sounds so clear before. I felt alone but not in a lonely way. The light came over the Chisos Mountains in white. It came so clear and bright it hurt to look at it. It poured over the edges in thin lines and fell down on me and the canyon.
I got back to the cabin and started painting. It felt good to finally start. I confess I've been overwhelmed with the landscape. *see above example* I have felt so inadequate. How to capture something so terrifying, beautiful and completely sublime? It took being alone for me to realize it's not about me capturing anything like that. It's just me and Him and the delight of being in a wild place and time. This sliver of goodness touching me and the light. I CANNOT capture such a place. It must be experienced. All I can do is interpret how I felt it. That is enough. That would please Jesus.
Driving down to capture the sunset that evening I saw a Mountain Lion climbing the rocks on the way to the Rio Grande Village. She looked at me. I slowed the van so I could keep looking at her. She blended with the landscape so well that I could hardly find her except for the movement. I was shaking. Probably from fear but I believe it was also from awe.
I notice that when I drive here I grip the steering wheel pretty tight. It's like I'm holding on to a ledge. I laugh whenever I notice it because I have no idea what I'm gripping. Maybe I'm wishing the van to stay moving or hoping to keep on the thin thread that is the road. Six days later I find I'm not as tight and stiff in the seat. I can sing in the van and I easily move onto shoulders to take photos. I still feel like I'm being watched when I get out to take shots or just to stand in the air. I'm getting used to it though.
I've always been amazed by the sublime painters. J.M.W. Turner, O'Keeffe, Carr. They understood this mixture of fear, awe and beauty. I don't think it's wrong for me to be feeling these all at the same time. It's my privilege to do so. Wildness makes us truly see how helpless we are. It's my place as a human. It's a spiritual act submitting to that reality. I feel God has brought me here to get a taste of who He is. 

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