Don’t forget to watch the sunset!

Lately, I have been fluctuating between feeling like it was just yesterday that my plane landed at SFO for the start of this crazy adventure and feeling like it will be just tomorrow that I fly east to be with my family for Christmas. Time is moving at a lightning fast snail’s pace, like molecules of light chilled to absolute zero, and in the midst of these contradictions so much life has happened! It’s enough to wear a girl out, keeping up with things moving and changing all at once while perpetually standing still.

Standing in the midst of these contradictions is what awes and shocks me most. For those of you whom I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting, allow me to provide some context. I spent last year living in an intentional community on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, in a town who last year saw its population officially pass the 1000 person mark. The entire rez has a population of almost 10,000 people. Most people write it off as flyover country, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a little slice of heaven on Earth. I can’t put into words how beautiful the prairies are. You can see for miles and miles, Wanbli (the Eagle) is always close, and the sunsets. My word, every evening in our little country house, my housemates and I were blessed with gorgeous sunset after gorgeous sunset. It’s a place of great stillness, and a sense of connectivity to the rest of creation that is almost overpowering. 

You can imagine how much of a shock it has been to move to a state with more people than my home country of Canada. Everything is so crowded, so busy here. After spending so much time in the middle of beautiful nowhere, I’d almost forgotten how many people live on this planet. It’s crazy! There are so many people here! The fact that people in this city don’t wake up every day astounded by how packed things are amazes me.

It never ceases to amaze me that, for how different these two places are, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Rosebud are not only part of the same church, they’re part of the same story of humanity. I hope I never stop being amazed by it. You even see the same glimpses of commonality in both places. The sunsets here are just as majestic, the skies just as painted as those beautiful, endless prairie skies. The feeling of love and community are just as strong. As I reflect on these past few months here, and my past year on the rez, I am endlessly grateful and dumbfounded by the warmth and sincerity of the welcomes I have received. Truly we are a species meant to live with one another, for it is in those tender moments of human connection that we catch glimpses of the face of God.

As someone who does a lot of wandering, I am especially aware of the things that divide insiders from outsiders, ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ and the ways in which those divisions hurt us all. But for all of the wandering I’ve done, for all the people I’ve met, I don’t think I’ve ever met a true outsider, a true ‘them’ to vilify. No. That is not our story, that is not God’s story. The things that connect us — relationship, beauty, yearning for God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven — are stronger than any force that might tear us apart. While I regularly struggle to find where exactly I fit in, knowing that somehow I do and always will gives me endless strength.

So, yeah, I guess you could say things are going well.