We are leaving Moab. Moving. Like birds in search of sustenance, we also seek sanctuary in a space that will allow us to build a life.
Destination: Sandpoint, Idaho.
Our season in the desert is over. The North is calling in a language like instinct, something beyond logic.
It feels illogical.
For a decade, I have known deeply that the desert is healing and the desert is home. It is solace and inspiration. I have known that I’ve needed this vastness as my anchor to contentment. Without it, I am unmoored, in peril, without identity or ground.
Leaving feels illogical.
For 10 years, my strength was built of sandstone and my voice sang in a chorus of canyon wren trills, meadowlark song and whispering cottonwood leaves. For 10 years, my life was written in the desert vernacular. It is the language of my entire adult life. This is where I learned the power of voice and the ability to project it, as if the cliffs conspired to echo the sentiments of my heart.
I spoke of the landscape, and the landscape spoke through me.
I wanted southern Utah to need me as much as I needed it. But, as with countless souls before me, I will wander on, need fulfilled. And the desert will persist. My footprint here will soon be released from the arroyo, washing down toward the river. And on to the sea.
My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless, says Rumi.
I understand this, and yet…
It feels like a betrayal.
I carry the news of our impending move quietly, furtively in transition amongst our acquaintances. What do I fear? That I will be dismissed and discounted before our departure? That I will simply be seen as yet another drifter in a town of transients? That no one will understand how important this ground is to me as I so easily cast it off?
It isn’t easy. It feels like a betrayal.
I once promised my progeny to this place and my bones to this soil. I once opined that, perhaps, after five generations, my desert-bound genes would know this corner of the earth as I would like to know it now. The secrets would be revealed upon proof of requisite dedication. What happened to that dedication?
Our dreams hit the economic realities of Moab, and so dedication ceded its reign to the shine of a newly minted future. It feels like a betrayal that Moab could not provide us the chance to hope for something better… without also proffering the burden of untenable debt. It is a sadness – but not a surprise – that dedication and ardor were not enough. Ardor does not pay the bills.
Not until faithfulness turns into betrayal and betrayal into faith can any human being become part of the truth, says Rumi.
I have faith in our future. And yet…
I feel so fearful.
I am afraid as I push and am pushed from this nest.
The desert is all I understand. What do I know of log cabins in the woods or winters of grey and snow, of the history, politics, fauna and residents of Idaho’s Panhandle? And what does that region know of me?
What do any of us know of the unfamiliar, beyond its fear and thrill?
I am fearful that all I bring with me – my basket of heart-rocks and love for Tyler, my hope and my voice – will not be enough without the landscape that gave rise to it all. I am leaving source. Can I stand on my own as of-the-desert while also standing beyond it? As an unknown entity in an unknown land?
Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious, says Rumi.
It feels as though we are birds. Traveling on a wing and a prayer. Headed home and somewhere else, simultaneously. Trusting that this call of the compass is correct. Trusting that leaning into illogicality, betrayal and fear are essential. To faith. Being. And growing beyond our near-sighted knowing.
ByBy Jen Jackson