Some little girls dream of growing up and becoming ballerinas or cowgirls. We did, too, on occasion, but mainly we were true to our one dream: we wanted to be Zorro. I don’t know about Ems, but I still do. But that’s another story. This one is about how we planned way back fifth and sixth grade that we would go to college together so that we could see each other more than once a year. Christmas just wasn’t enough. And wanting to be Zorro led to other things…and we started planning a Great Western Adventure.
College came; and we went to the same one (of course); I would have died if she hadn’t joined me there. We ate breakfast together, were society officers together, suffered through dating outings together, cried together and prayed together…it was pretty much the best. But every summer, one of us was working, or on a ministry team or SOMETHING. We kept talking about the GWA, but it might have just been one of those things you talk about and never do. Until this summer. For the first time in ten years, one of us wasn’t in college or in a foreign country. If we didn’t do it this summer, we might never.
Friends gave us destination suggestions, and family gave us lists and wisdom. We rented a car, bought plane tickets, packed peanut butter and bananas (and a few other things) and left for the west.
What: Great Western Adventure
When: Summer 2017
Where: IN, IL, IA, SD
Why: For rare and lovely fellowship, and to see more of this world God has made.
We learned a lot. Like to always pack Purell when camping, and how all South Dakota state parks have the same sign in the bathrooms written with a comma splice. We discovered that there is a limit on the number of bananas a person should eat, and that avocados eaten on the top of a huge rock in the middle of a lake somehow taste better.
We learned how to wield an atlatl (it’s really fun), that buffalo take a dust bath before they charge, and that prairie dogs are a chirping nuisance.
It took us six days, but we successfully made coffee over a campfire and made a muffin in a bean can. We got really good at putting up the tent and making grill cheese sandwiches over open flame.
She fell in love with the Black Hills.
I fell for the Badlands.
Two nights we camped on the Badlands; we climbed up and through the mountains of the Black Hills. We slept to coyotes singing in SD, bullfrogs in IA, and had trouble discerning a certain type of chirruping cricket from a rattlesnake. She is brave about snakes; I am not. She took care of me, though. She always does. And I do my best to take care of her.
The GWA was everything we thought it would be. But how could it be anything else? We were going for the fellowship; it just happened that we had an astonishing background for it. I’ve come home grateful and in some way comforted at God’s care of us all along the way. He did care for us so very tenderly. He even answered little prayers like giving us a campsite beside a lake.
Now we’re home. Five people I know left this life forever while we were gone. There are people struggling with keeping jobs, with health, with despair and discontent, all right where I left them. But I don’t have a sense of coming back to “real life”. Our western wanderings have somehow made right now a bit more beautiful; a bit clearer. Now, in the back of my mind, I have a glowing image of the Badlands…and I think that if God could care for us there, if God could make something so beautiful out of something so desolate, then surely we little sparrows can rest in Him. And so I share my little images, hoping that perhaps, you can also find rest for your wings.