Posted by: MC | April 1, 2013

Montana Reprise — the Renewal of Uncertainty Easter and Beyond

Easter morning 3-31-2013  mmc

It is Easter morning.  A black cat walks across a bright green stretch of lawn each step a caress as silken and clear as the the early morning air that holds it all.

I’ve driven 1800 miles in the past week.  Even though that’s a thing I’m known to do, the particular kind of presence demanded by the road continues to offer surprises that, upon my return, make the miracles like cat paws across an Easter lawn more visible than before.  Probably the surprises guaranteed by the road represent only the slightest amplification of the very nature of life anyway — particularly given the journey each lifetime must be.  Still, explicit journeys like the one I just took — road time to a place unknown and road time back again —  teach about living with life’s uncertainty.  Agreeing to venture forth with a destination in mind requires a lifting of denial’s usual veils in order to step more aware into uncertainty’s certainty.  It’s a kind of intimacy with life itself and, perhaps more daringly, with the particular pulse of being I’ve come to know as me.  All in all, paying the attention that a road trip costs is one of the finest bargains to be had, most essentially in the proof I find on the road that moving into the unknown reliably reveals the mystery of what’s next.

…30 hours later…

So, that’s where I got stuck.  At the mention of mystery my capacity to extemporize in this genre known as ‘blog’ came to an abrupt halt.  I went for a walk.  Yesterday morning’s weather was truly exceptional — Easter, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, the last day of March 2013 with its once-in-a-lifetime 5 Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  By phone I told various relatives across the day about the embarrassment of blossoms.  “It’s that over the top,” I told my sister.  It’s well known that we have blossoms like this every year in Portland, but usually the days are gray and rainy.   Under blue sky, the relentless beauty of all this blooming is almost too much to bear.  “But I’ll manage somehow,” I reassured her.  So I took photos, knowing they couldn’t even begin to hold what the morning gave and gave.

I had left Red Lodge, MT a few days earlier entering the uncertainty of 15 hours of highway miles on a quiet Montana morning.  Quiet except for the bird songs that even locals noticed for their sure indication of spring’s arrival.  At the suggestion of my college friend I took Highway 78 toward Columbus where I’d hook up again with the near infinite stretch of I-90 West.  That entree to my homeward journey turned out to be another complex of surprises — another gift beyond measure.  Later in the day I sent email to a friend describing that back road as “driving  the pulse line of Montana.”  The golden hills that a few days earlier had looked to me like a vast pod of whales struck me that morning on Highway 78 as the slow and gentle lub-dub of Montana’s generous heart — the pulse of life constant beneath uncertainty and change.  Backdrop to the Mini Cooper’s luxurious waltz among the rise and fall of land-as-heartbeat was the stunning magnificence of snow cloaked Rocky Mountains — a wall of being so certain in its presence, so uncertain in its mix with weather.  And as those who know the mountains at any closeness can tell, there is near nothing certain in the personality of those magnificent constants for anyone moving through them on foot.

Inside the car there was insulation from the raw uncertainty of this land’s full story.  Nonetheless, the road offered its instructions which if not precise, were powerful nonetheless.  For example, and as if to make sure the seamless perfection of that morning drive would forever remain clarion in my deepest sense of what is real, I rounded one pulsing curve and came eye-to-eye with a bald eagle perched in a lone conifer.  In the face of all of this I was helpless.  I could only pull the car off the road.  I could only put my hand on my own small heart and wonder out loud if it is even possible to listen well when surrounded by such a precise meeting of the certain with the uncertain.

This is redemption — in surprises, in journeying.  Continuing on the path whatever it brings is our privilege, our challenge, and our opportunity so long as we draw breath.  Circumstance changes like the click of numbers across an odometer, like the weather I later encountered through all three mountain passes as old snow surrendered to new rain — winter gone to spring.

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