The Desert in biblical imagery is the place of wooing and preparation. Jesus fasts in the desert for 40 days and nights before entering into his ministry, Israel spends the interim period between Egypt and the Promised Land in the desert (a trip which ends up being longer because of their bad behavior an act I am doing my best NOT to follow), and God in the Old Testament poetry and prophecy woos God's beloved(Israel/God's people). Taking her away from her lovers and renewing their marriage commitment and connection. It is a place of beauty and fear, a place stripped away of all distractions, a place where one is reduced to the basics.
In modern times the desert is a place for those still seeking the wild west type life, a place filled with glittering mirages (Vegas anyone) which hide the sinister underpinnings. It is the lacking of something(s) thought to be needed in life.
And for me in this moment, my desert is Portland, the land of my birth and the place where I have been called for a limited amount of time on my journey to California. I have now been here for three weeks and like any biblical account the accommodations are not the most pleasant (sleeping on an airmatress with a slow leak on my parent's living room floor) and the offers consistent but not over flowing. Yet in spite of all of that I find that I am more happy and more at peace than I have been in the last few years. That even though I am still plagued with fears that I will never find a real job (ie one that I like that pays more that just barely surviving that doesn't require creative accounting you know like a career) or that I will never get out of my parents house...that I am still more hopeful than I have been. Almost everyday I am finding pleasant memories from my childhood. They pop up unexpectedly like a hummingbird.
This is the way we used to go to tryon creek state park, the place that hosted many "mud walks". And here was the site of many pre rehearsal breakfasts with my mom. Oh and here is where she taught a variety of classes and Ian and I got candy cigarettes and "smoked" on the playground...which could incidentally explain both our attempts at being smokers. So rich is the history of my family in this place, while I know in my heart it is not my last stop, it does feel sweet to be given this time to remember.
My present for last week was the chance to sit with my aunt and remember different family members(especially my grandparents). It made me wish for the chance to sit with her and my cousin annette and my aunt marey, the three women in my family I feel most connected so they could fill my heart and mind up with stories of my family over tea and the sweetness of being together. I find it is so easy to not talk about people who are gone, to stop remembering them. I do this I know I do this with my mom. It is hard to be reminded of who she was because then I have to wrestle with the anger and worse the "what ifs". Yet which is worse; the pain of remembering or the fear of the loss of memories. But the desert is bringing me back offering me the chance to fill up a rain jar of stories and memories to fill a book of paper or the books of my future children's head. Thankful am I for the dance of story that happens in the simplicity of this desert time.