They continued to ask if we were there, are we almost there, are we close, when will we get there, how much longer now — until the fun weekend trip was turning me into mad mama before it even began. We were driving north a few hours to a precious spot that my husband and I hadn’t been to in 14 years. It is this ethereal place where the trees are white and pour out yellow at the sky and the ground. And when you live in the desert, visiting a place where Fall colors rain down can feel like a baptism of beauty.
Since our surrender and waiting on God had turned a bit from trust into a dusty version of faith, we knew we needed that kind of soul baptism and spirit renewal and we packed up everyone and left it all behind.
I remembered my vow to be intentional with grace and gratitude with them this weekend, and then I remembered how many times I have likely ruined a moment with God with my own impatience and so we smiled from the front seat at those nervous nellies in the back and whispered, “soon, darlings.”
Before we knew it we had broken out of town and were on the road towards the big mountain and we had the windows down and blared “Life is a Highway” on the radio, and of course these kids know the words (thank you Cars, the movie), and suddenly the excitement eclipsed the impatience and we were really on vacation.
Soon the road towards the big mountain turned into the narrow steep mountain road and we played Mumford & Sons singing about grace so that we were reminded to pray the whole tricky, white-knuckled ride. The quiet fear in the back of the van was palpable as even I couldn’t look out at the view, for fear a mere peek would tip the weight of our car off the side of the steep cliff. We finally made it to the top and everyone exhaled for the first time. As our car turned to the clearing called Lockett Meadow the explosion of marigold brought me to tears.
Here, this meadow at 8,500 feet up, with barely a sign that tells you where it is, this is where my motherhood originally began.
Because I was here at age 20 talking with my soon-to-be-husband about the family we wanted to grow. We spoke of our future children, what adventures we would take them on, and how we’d be back there someday with them all. It took clean air and no cell phone signal and no traffic noises and no to-do’s to show me the plans God had for me as a mother back then.
And it may have taken 14 years, but we did return, all 4 little people piled high in a mini-van, jaws dropped everywhere.
The boys grabbed their walking sticks and ranger hats and we strapped the baby on daddy’s back and we all headed up the 2 mile (up higher!) hike to find more golden trees. My youngest boy, the painfully shy one, he somehow birthed a new self too. He was our leader and broke open a little more of himself that day and we could barely get him to slow down. We took rests and they searched for snakes and we found an orange cricket and a beehive and mushrooms and said hello to the dogs and people that shared the trail with us.
And as I sat on this gigantic log and heard my boy tell me he needed a minute along with God on a big rock, I knew then what was happening. I could almost see plainly with my eyes how this easy overnight trip was shaping us. Another boy told me he could hear the wind and he wanted to always hear it. I didn’t have to break up a single brother-fight that whole hike.
We walked out of the forest new creatures and found a spot in the meadow to picnic and laugh at hilarious things and ate specially made (by daddy) croissant sandwiches and strawberries and potato chips. Together we watched baby sister walk and stumble around the meadow and they all howled at the sky a bit, and as the wind picked up to carry us out it just seemed like the whole of the forest and meadow remembered us.
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