Last night I sat in a wood fired hot tub with my husband. It was overcast, so we couldn't see the stars, but we knew they were there.
A single flame of a candle, in a glass-paned lantern, bowed to us. It waved, and bowed, and bowed again. I was touched, to say the least. It was the last night of my first thirty years of life. The small flame saluted those years and looking up and out into the sky, I felt, like I often do, the magnitude and tininess of earth, of the world and all my small years.
If we weren't held down, we could just fly off. But we are held down, by a force greater than us, and millions of miles away, brilliant orbs swirl and dust the universe with beauty that we will never see. I am made to be here. I fit this place. Earth.
Coming here to Humboldt County is another homecoming. I used to live in Northern Mendocino, which we practically considered to be Humboldt, because we drove north, over the line, for every little thing. We left that land, and that river, not without tears, (Many, many tears) because it was the beginning of a deep healing that was carving its way into my bones. Carving into bone may not sound like healing, but I need Jesus words to be corkscrewed into every calcium-fortified surface.
Whether I believe it or not, I am made. Breath of God sustains me. I am held up and loved and the hand of God gently cups the crown of my head. I am not too high-strung or sensitive or anxious to be loved by him. I stand on the hill of his regard and the whole universe spins before me. I have been cast down, but I am lifted.
Soon after we left this place, our house was crushed by falling trees in the middle of the night. We learned then not to doubt the path that God has laid for us, not to look back. We learned also, that dangerous things can happen in safe places. Do not imagine that you can pad your life, that gentle voice said. We were justified in our faith, in our decision to leave.
Now we are visiting friends who have made space for us. It is a second home, a fourth home, a sixteenth home. Being welcome here has eased the sting of leaving.
I went away and found more healing. I found that I could get through fear and love a foreign place more than I ever imagined. I found that jungle sings inside of me, even as much as forest. I didn't know that was possible.
I found that earth is mine in a way that I didn't know before, and it has nothing to do with ownership, with citizenship. I can't really own anything, can I? I went away and left everything I thought I had owned, and found new life through loving things that have nothing to do with my place of birth. The universe is spinning, and I love the farthest galaxies. I am allowed.
One thing that my faith teaches is that we are adopted by God. Not only servants (though that too) or devotees (though we are in fact devoted) but adopted children. It means that in loving the farthest galaxies, I am loving something that will in fact be mine one day, loving it in longing, but in the most respectful and honoring way, owning it. Now is the same as later, in essence. This is what the Prodigal Son did not understand, and neither did his older brother. All that I have has always been yours.
I own nothing, and even tomorrow is not guaranteed. These first thirty years have been adventurous and fiscally strange. Things are always dicey when you are surrounded by trees in a windstorm. But I love these leaves and grasses like brothers. The flowers in these fields stand on the hill of their Creator's regard. Jesus pointed to them, when he was telling the people of his care for them. Oh these cherished small things.
I went away from here, and then I poured my love for this place into a book. My friend told me a story, and that story ignited something inside of me, and I took all that longing for a place of my own and put it into words that immortalized something about the beginning of healing. It exorcised my grief, and taught me that we don't lose things, really, just like we don't lose our childhoods. The children that we were stay inside of us, and so do the places that we've been.