26 December 2006

On the Road from New Orleans to Wyoming

Sojourner stepped into the flow --- that is, she swam and rested in the irregular current of the sojourners’ life, willingly. She was called by God to walk and talk, teaching and preaching. Being a mirror to the people and a messenger.

I too entered voluntarily. Nudged by circumstance to give up a permanent home, I did not resist. Why resist when dreams of leaving had hovered, like translucent shadow at the periphery of my consciousness, for years? I had dreamed of escape and adventure nearly every day of the preceding decade. A fear of frostbitten, friendless destitution and death had set the stage for nightmare for years. It was time to confront the fear and cancel the dreams’ deferment. It was time to escape.

I am talkative—but I have nothing to teach. If I am called, it is by nothing more or less than whatever drives, urges, or calls every living thing toward Becoming. I am a reflection of everything. Everything is a reflection of me. And within this mutual and interdependent reflection lies the Message.

I often imagine what it would be like to meet Sojourner, to talk with her, to look at her and have her look at me. I would ask her if she ever lost sight of why she had chosen to have no home. I would ask what she learned about herself and about living from the traveling and from the sojourning. I would ask her what her own Self had to do with her work—did she do it all for God, the Father Man Above, or was some part of the work done strictly to please or entertain Faithful Sojourner?

Tonight, on a straight clear road across a white, frozen landscape, I am traveling the last leg of a journey from New Orleans to Casper, WY. A magnificent panoramic sunset played out in gold-lavender-orange-mauve-blue extravagance to my left; to the right stretched winter fields sleeping at the base of craggy umbre mounds. As the light failed, I glimpsed my face, reflected in the window of the passenger side door.

I made eye contact with myself and the first thought that came was this: I love living this way.

Thirty years ago I was riding across a frozen Michigan landscape with Mary L_______. I didn’t know where we were going. I was just along for the ride and sojourn. She had friends in Ann Arbor. I’d never been to Ann Arbor. On the ride up from Bloomington, in the middle of the night, I saw a barn in the distance in flames—startling to see such bright, violent energy in the sleepy darkness. The memory of that sight is as vivid as ever. I’ve remembered it often in the intervening years. It has appeared in my dreams. And Joni Mitchell sings of a similar experience in a song on her Hejira album.

This is the memory that accompanied I love living this way. It is 30 years later and tonight I don’t have a practical explanation or rational justification for the way I live. I simply love living this way.