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The Road to Durango


The road to Durango is surprising.

This is not necessarily an accurate or objective observation, but it is my observation, lending itself to delight with the wild beauty of Mexico, as well as my until now naiveté with her loveliness.

And as far as objective, I am not a journalist, but a poet.

You in the mountains, you in the sands
You in the waters, frothing hard layers
Of old flooded rock
Of sedimental glory
And unashamed wind.
The rains found their fingers
Combing catastrophe
The boulders in harmony
With many waters
 Their dry age unquenched.

It is also lush. Full of thriving plants and trees, overgrown and thick. We leave the city on a bus of supreme comfort, with wide, padded seats, armrests galore, and bottled water and movies. The Mexican bus system is also surprising.


We head north. The landscape begins to change, and with it my opinions, which shoot every which way already, like sunbeams through the shuttered cracks in my soul.

Rolling green hills, and mountains up ahead. The Sierra Madre range, with deep canyons, high flat butte-like tops, and a hundred differently colored layers of sediment in the sides of the cliffs.

Lifting, like hands, the pines wave their hands.
Bony arms, the branches bend down.
I’m in this moment, holding Your voice.
I’m on this hilltop, hearing Your breath.

In the travel book on my lap, Durango is the most isolated city in Mexico. It is also part of the Golden Triangle, which really isn’t that golden, since it derived its name from the amount and frequency of drug trafficking.

But what do travel books know, for a new highway has opened up recently, allowing much easier passage through the mountains to and from Durango. It is not so isolated anymore.

From where I am sitting right now, with my face pressed to the glass and my heart open to the beauty like a window, I do not know what is in store in Durango. Truth be told, I am still exhausted from the last few weeks at the base. We have just moved off base, and our stuff lies in piles all over the house we have found. The house has been a Godsend, but we are overwhelmed.

Higher than I, the sides stream by
To collapse in the channels
To sing in the tunnels
To reach for octaves in the silence
Of a throbbing heart
Is what even the rocks would do

We drive, four hours up, and suddenly it is high desert.

I gasp. Joshua trees! I turn to make eye contact with Derek. Only he will know how special this is. Our family, we made a special journey almost two years ago, a journey toward our true hearts, along the many highways bordering the American Southwest, for 35 days. When we saw the Joshua trees for the first time, at sunset in the Mojave desert in southeast California, something permanent was done in us.

We fell in love with the voice that said let there be light! Let there be stars and sun and moon and trees and birds and birdsong and elephants and rivers and waterfalls and…

With a good and startling jolt to our sensibilities, we started to hear Him like never before.

Now Derek smiles at this perfect encouragement. The bus slows at a toll plaza just outside Durango. I am finding not just Joshua trees by the hundreds, but other types of yucca, and I spot prickly pear cactus, ocotillos, and juniper.

When I see them I remember things. Hard things. Good things.

This adventure we have been on, this Mexican ride, for the last two months, has been wonderful in so many ways. It is changing us into a new shape. But what kind of writing would this be to only say the good?

I told you in my last post about some of the struggle. Sometimes we struggle in ways that cannot be contained properly by words.

So we leave them there in the darkness.

Sometimes we join those writhings in the dark, and we tell ourselves old lies that aren’t true, and rock ourselves with self-pity, and wonder that we’ll ever be able to help anybody in our currently helpless state.

But He always finds me, in the dark places I crawl to, and speaks.

With cacti. The eccentricity of changing landscape. Dry places. Beautiful memories. Songs from the wilderness.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.
(Ps 121:1)

I hear Him loud and clear.

And then, after a wild goose chase to find our motel, and a loud squeal of the brakes, we are off the bus and collecting our luggage, ready to pour hope afresh out of our own cracked and empty spaces, and extend to others the same comfort we have ourselves received.


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