Change Afoot

Well, here I am, up again at 4:00 a.m. unable to sleep for all the thoughts swirling through my mind. I am thinking this entire phase of my life is coming to and end and something completely new is afoot. I had not planned to spend another winter in this town. When Tricia passed last spring I began a purge of the life we had together with the intention of getting out of this town and this area by Halloween. Halloween is when the weather really turns ugly up here at 9,000 feet. Moving though was not my only goal for the summer and I got kind of busy with my photography and an unexpected friendship and the moving got put on the back burner.

But now the stark reality of winter and the long hours of darkness have enveloped Ute Pass, my new friend was forced to relocate out of the area and I am reminded of why I wanted so badly to be out of here by now. Winters are long, cold and lonely here in the high country and there is really nothing to do in this town. Rarely is there enough snow to go snowshoeing, while at the same time the trails can be icy and dangerous for regular hiking and many roads into the back country are impassable. The peak is in the dark and the whole area is just kind of ugly as far as picture taking goes. There are no jobs to speak of and there aren’t enough people here to sustain any kind of meaningful business. Year after year many businesses come and go, hoping in vain to make a living outside the rat race of the city at the bottom of the pass.

The only other choice for people who live here is to commute to the city, but the drive down the pass in the winter is long, often dangerous and certainly not guaranteed which puts a real damper on having a job that requires you to be there every day. So anyway, to the point, Yesterday was Sunday morning and for some reason the grim reality of the winter ahead really hit home. I was kind of throwing up my hands crying out to God and asking “What am I supposed to do now?” Immediately a verse from the bible came to me. The prophet Elijah, coming off a huge victory over the prophets of Bale was fleeing the city and Queen Jezebel who was less than appreciative over the loss of 400 of her so called prophets and was seeking to kill him. And God who was looking down on his plight found him a place to rest for a while:

1 Kings 17:2 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

So for a while, God sustained Elijah by the brook using the ravens to bring him food. But it was never God’s plan for him to retire there, only for him to rest for a season before moving on to his next task.

So it is with us today as well. Humans have a tendency to want to settle down, build the homestead and establish roots. But just as often, God’s plans are not our plans and if we refuse to let Him lead we may never realize our full potential. Elijah had more work to do and God forced him to move on by drying up the brook so that he could no longer be sustained in that place.

And that was the word for me on Sunday. The brook here has dried up and it is time to move on. Standing in the way of that move is one last pile of unneeded stuff that needs to be discarded somehow. It is the stuff that I wasn’t quite ready to get rid of and thought, “I may want this later”. It has been months now and I have had no interest in even reviewing what might be in there. I’m now sure I don’t need it and it can just go. After that I don’t know how or where the next phase of my life will begin, but at this time I really don’t need to know. I may be leaving here soon, or I may be just laying the ground work for something unknown. It doesn’t matter, God knows and as He often does, only one instruction at a time is given. Sometimes the only thing we know is that He has said, “get up and prepare for a journey” to see if we will take the first step in faith. It’s going to be a busy and difficult week, but I know it will be worth it in the end. For some time now I have been thinking of getting closer to Rocky Mountain National Park, or perhaps Yellowstone or maybe even the eastern slopes of the Sierra. Come what may.

Writer’s Block

I have heard of Writer’s Block… a situation where a writer cannot seem to write anymore for some unknown reason. I have had some Writer’s Block lately, but I know the reason. I know what I am supposed to write, I just don’t want to do it. So I guess if I’m going to get past here I’m going to have to write it. The last couple of trips to Denver have been very depressing. There is a particular intersection that Tricia and I encountered hundreds of times, usually on our way back from a day of errands or projects. Santa Fe is a main artery out of the city and parts further north and is where we would make the turn to the east for the home stretch on the highway. My last couple of trips to Denver brought me to that place and for some reason as I sat there waiting for the light I was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of memories. Memories of our twenty years together in that place. Memories of return trips from the antique malls up north, of holiday shopping in Littleton and of the Christmas store on Santa Fe. Memories of DJ gigs in that part of town, of trips to Southwest Plaza, Chatfield and Waterton Canyon. Memories of trips to the thrift stores to hunt for treasures in the piles of rubble dumped on the shelves. Romano’s was our favorite restaurant in the whole world, a little place just off of Littleton Blvd. and how I have missed it since we moved away. And of course there are good feelings of the financial security and good health we enjoyed while we were there. We had friends and co-workers, there were company parties, church functions and a sense of belonging. There were also calls from work, people with questions, problems to solve, and a feeling of being needed. I had other things I wanted to do this week while I was in the Denver, but the pain I felt sitting at that intersection was too unbearable. So I just headed straight down Santa Fe past C-470 where it becomes Highway 85 and a great way to miss all the traffic on the way back to Colorado Springs. I sped away as quickly as I could but the depression remained for days, same thing with this weeks road trip. So I was praying to have the depression lifted and for a way through the impenetrable wall of pain. As usual, the answer came from the Word of God. One word, Egypt, one of the earliest stories in the Old Testament. Of course it is the story of the Ten Commandments. The Hebrews were at first overjoyed as they left 400 years of hard bondage and slavery behind, but soon the heat and desolation of the desert had soured their mood toward the journey to an unknown place. Food and water were in short supply, the days of walking long and hard. They started to murmur, “At least we had food in Egypt.”. They said to Moses, “Have you led us into the desert to kill us?”. They had quickly forgotten the pain and merciless toil of life as a slave. And it occurred to me that five years away from there has dulled the memory of the hardship there. I had forgotten the torture it was to sit in a cubicle for eight, nine, ten and even more hours of mind numbing tedium. Forgotten were the one hour commutes morning and night in heavy traffic, driving to work in the dark in the morning and coming back in the dark at night. Forgotten were car accidents caused by too many trips and too many cars on the roads. And of course there were the ever present problems with the old house which we not so affectionately called the Money Pit after the Tom Hanks and Shelly Long movie. I had also forgotten the rage and hatred I fostered towards a nit picking homeowner’s association manned by busy bodies with nothing better to do than spend their days trying to find ways to torment people. Forgotten was the dismay when we discovered that the landing pattern for DIA was right over our house. Forgotten was the road past the lake that turned our street into a thoroughfare for delivery trucks on their way to other towns, turning our quiet little street into a roaring truck route where deer and dogs and cats were routinely run down by careless mentally challenged delivery drivers. I had forgotten the heartbreak we experienced when they cut down the forest where we loved to go snowshoeing in order to clear the way for the mansions they wanted to build. Forgotten were the anger I felt when the bosses would make the announcement that profits were too low for raises this time, and the next time and the next. It was then that I remembered how much we hated the place and how we had tried for so long to find a way out. Our hatred for the city is what drove us to try all the businesses, to find something that could sustain us somewhere else so that we would have the confidence to make the break. And we did finally make the break to our new start here in the mountains. Of course life in the mountains comes with it’s own set of hardships, but they are just problems to solve not the insidious spirit crushing stress of city life that has no beginning, end or identifiable solution. Sometimes we need to take a step back and recognize that God knows to take care of His own. He had been telling us for a long time to get out but instead of obeying immediately we tried to work every detail. When this is done or that is done, or this amount of money comes in, then we will go. Perhaps if we had gone sooner Tricia wouldn’t have gotten the cancer. In any case, the place is my Egypt and I am certain that the flood of memories I experience the next time I’m there will only serve to remind me that I don’t miss that life at all, and of how happy I am to be living in the mountains. There is a saying up here, “If you are lucky enough to live in the mountains, you are lucky enough.”. I agree and I hope that this writing helps anyone out there reading this who is missing their “Egypt”.