April 8, 2015
by Molly Davis
Looking out the window of our SUV, we could see a few remnants of possible life. A harrow from an old plow used to till up the rocky, dry soil before planting season, an old wagon wheel, and scattered bits of this and that, all suggesting that at one time there might have been a home or barn here. “I think this must be where it was.” my husband Tom said. We had been driving for over an hour, in search of the old homestead built by my great-grand parents in eastern Washington. I had heard of ‘Rattlesnake Ranch’ in the stories my dad told of growing up during the depression in Waterville, a small rural town where making a living was tough in the best of times. He spent many summer days on that homestead, helping his grandmother gather eggs, poking sticks into nests in the hen-house to scare out any rattlers that had slithered in to get their breakfast, and drawing water from the backyard well. His stories evoked visions of a childhood that was both happy and lonely, hard and adventurous. I’d always longed to go there with him, share a bit of his past, and get a glimpse of what life in that rustic, hand-hewn cabin must have been like. I wanted to see with my own eyes what I had only been able to imagine through his.
We never got the chance to go there together before he died in 2000.
Tom had surprised me, planning this trip on the way home from dropping our last daughter off at college. I was in need of distraction before going home to an empty nest. We had spent the morning in the Douglas County Museum, combing old newspaper clippings, maps, and county records to narrow our search. This was vast country and we wanted to hone in on the most likely location of anything still standing. Maps in hand, we set out, me driving, him navigating. A 4 lane highway gave way to a 2 lane country road, which became a gravel road, dwindling to a dirt one, and finally fading to nothing more than faint wagon tracks. Staring out the car window at the long abandoned detritus of an earlier time, I could feel my spirits sinking down and the tears welling up. My chance at a bucket list visit into my dad’s past was apparently gone. And then for some reason I said out loud, the words that had quietly drifted into my thoughts. “Just one more rise.”
Driving slowly forward to avoid the rocks, ruts and potholes, we crested the next hill. And there it was. Roof falling in, windows broken, the house listing to one side, but still standing. For the next few hours we walked around what was left, wandering the tiny rooms, poking sticks into the hen house nests, and peering down into the well from which my dad pulled up buckets of clear, cold spring water. We took lots of pictures, so that we would be sure to remember what we’d found, all because we had chosen to go over just one more rise.
It would have been so easy to give up. Turn back. Give up the quest. Chalk it up to a good effort.
But we didn’t.
Rattlesnake Ranch now hangs on our wall, framed in wood from one of the old windows we found that day. Lately, when I find myself at what seems to be the end of the trail while in pursuit of a vision or goal, a creative idea or new opportunity, the right words to put onto the page or a door that might open to new possibilities…..whenever it appears that it is time to give up, turn around and head back….I remind myself that what I am looking for might just be over one more rise.
March 19, 2015
When I was a little girl, my family and I spent two weeks every summer at the Oregon coast. Two. Whole. Weeks. All year long I counted down the days until we could load up the car and head down to the beach. I counted up my pennies so that I could go for an hour long horse back ride on the beach every day. For Two. Whole. Weeks.
As soon as we drove down the driveway to the little cottage tucked into the hillside, overlooking Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, I started counting down. Read the rest of this entry »
March 6, 2015
I believe that we are meant to live fully. Read the rest of this entry »
March 3, 2015
“No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it…. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are.”
Barbara Brown Taylor
The starting line is here.
Whatever is to come next in our life begins right now.
And right now.
And right now. Read the rest of this entry »
February 27, 2015
“Do you ever get bored?”
That was the question posed earlier this week by our naturopath. My husband and I had scheduled a joint visit to talk to her about our shared sleep issues. Getting a full night of rest is essential. A necessity which was eluding us on a regular basis, resulting in lowered spirits, less focus, and lack of energy.
Tom jumped right in, answering enthusiastically, “I NEVER get bored.”
Wrong answer. Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2015
Yesterday, the first day of Lent, I gave up the Fear of Uncertainty. It is a fear with which I am familiar, having taken up precious space in the suitcase I carry with me on my trek. My suitcase is most definitely of the carry-on sort, as it comes with me wherever I go. There is only so much room allotted, so tending to the contents is essential. Anything I carry that is not useful (like my angst over the unpredictable nature of life) prevents me from packing something else. Every item that holds me back, gets in my way, makes me less rather than more, complicates rather than simplifies, is excess baggage. The weight of carrying all that useless stuff that I stuff into my stuff sack? It weighs me down, wastes precious time and wears me out.
On this second day of Lent and first full day of traveling without it, it dawned on me that with the fear of uncertainty no longer taking up real estate in my bag, something new could take its place. What to pack instead? And then it hit me. Could I find the courage to pack Un-Certainty?
Certainty means I know it all. (Been there.)
Uncertainty means I don’t have a clue. (Done that.)
But Un-Certainty? Oh… I like the sound of that.
Un-Certainty gives me the choice to toggle between the known and the unknown, and not get stuck-in-the mud of either.
Un-Certainty allows me to navigate off the map and into the mystery.
Un-Certainty pushes me to explore and experiment, expand and experience.
Un-Certainty leads me to wonder and wander and wrestle and wrangle.
Un-Certainty makes me humble and open to receiving the new.
Un-Certainty helps me seek forgiveness and extend grace.
Un-Certainty transforms fear into faith, which seems like the perfect traveling companion during Lent. Or any other time for that matter.