It was a few weeks into the class that I suddenly felt as though I was in the ocean, treading water with seasoned and well-equipped scuba divers. The language was the water surrounding me, warm and inviting, salty and buoyant but dark below. It was the darkness that drew me. As much as I tried to get in touch with the text, with the loss of Eden, I felt drawn to the darkness below and I swam in that.
So far, I’d only added dirt, bone meal, and periodic water, then parked the cans in a sunny spot to see what happened. Yet thanks to this minimal work, green shoots were already seeking the sun, requiring me to add almost daily scoops of more dirt to cover the rapidly growing stems. Water plus dirt made mud in most other settings, but here were these plants, charting almost miraculous growth despite so little work on my part.
Maybe I grew like that too.
This is a lonely posture, but letting people in can hurt, bruise, bewilder. Looking into another's eyes and seeing myself there means encountering not just that person and their messes, but my own. It means I have to stare my own presence down and feel that pinch in my chest, that thickness in my throat. I have to face the former me because someone knew me then, knows me now, and if we both stick around, will know me in the future. That is love, and it is tricky.
To know someone else, to love someone else, is to lose myself a little.
And then, for the first (of many) profoundly healing moments of the weekend, I realized that I was temporarily untethered. But not untethered in the Sandra-Bullock-out-in-space sort of way. Instead of feeling distress or loneliness, I felt an unfamiliar sensation that it was just me here. I remembered that I exist. Not only that, but I felt relieved and surrounded by the acceptance of God. Nobody calling. Nobody for me to check on or take care of. No Twitter feed. No e-mails waiting with exclamation points.
But Summer Lake offers me something neither of those places ever can — the expanse of wilderness. Every day we surround ourselves with manmade structures and agendas and priorities set by us, the human beings. When you venture into those wetlands you are reminded again that an entire world happens out there without you, every day, every season of the year. Staggering, beautiful, abundant life. The peace of wild things.