This morning I woke to a badlands beauty. The sun is already bright and hot though only a quarter way to its ascent. But the breeze, more like a constant prairie wind that rises and falls in varying strength is refreshing. I remember reading Eugene Peterson's poem, written on his treks through the badlands years ago. I love the way he lets the earth sink into his soul, how it helps him speak of things both seen and unseen; the hidden parts of our lives walking alongside the breathe in and breathe out stuff of dirt and sky.
"Holy Luck" by Eugene Peterson
“Blessed are those who mourn”
Flash floods of tears, torrents of them,
Erode cruel canyons, exposing
Long forgotten strata of life
Laid down in the peaceful decades:
A badlands beauty. The same sun
That decorates each day with colors
From arroyos and mesas, also shows
Every old scar and cut of lament.
Weeping washes the wounds clean
And leaves them to heal, which always
Takes an age or two. No pain
Is ugly in past tense. Under
The Mercy every hurt is a fossil
Link in the great chain of becoming.
Pick and shovel prayers often
Turn them up in valleys of death.
Pick and shovel prayers. Wounds taking an age... or two... to heal. How we sit under The Mercy where all our hurts like the strata in these hills become a kind of beauty.
It doesn't always look pretty in the present, that is for sure. Last week was so good and hard. I loved being near family we've missed. They are fun and sweet and always I learn from them about parenting and living honestly and loving weird neighbors and always I and am humbled by them. And yet I missed those who were not there, and I didn't like the way things have changed, the way the hurts sometimes hung in the air like silent weights. Still, I loved talking to my nieces whose legs grow long like young gazelles and laughing with my nephew who took his cousin under his wing without batting an eye, and going on late night ice cream runs with the adults, mulling in the parking lot over our pasts and trying to gain proper perspective. Will it ever happen? I think to grow in grace and understanding must take a lifetime, and the mountains that we sat surrounded by could teach us a thing or two about faith and prayer and a life of badlands like beauty.