Part 1/3 The Montana trip

We are back in town, and it was a wonderful trip. Road trips are truly amazing – it took almost 15 hours to drive back from Montana (we drove 2500 miles). Lollie and I spent some real quality time together. Our conversations ranged from the profound to the profane (you can guess who stimulated the latter).

This post is dedicated to my mother. From prior experience I know that my usual answer to her question: “how was the trip?” won’t suffice. So instead of my usual ‘it was great’. Here is an extended version an exegesis of the words ‘it was great’.

The reason for our trip was twofold. One, we always wanted to see Yellowstone – and Grand Teton National Park. Two, we were on the verge of making some huge decisions and had the opportunity to visit some wise friends in Montana.

We started our trip on Thursday after delaying our intended start of 5:00 AM to 11:00. We aimed for Jackson in Wyoming. Leaving Colorado and entering Wyoming was a revelation or maybe a deceleration? Wyoming is flat and dusty and I’m glad we don’t live there. Some people call it home though, and with a ring of affection, like we call ours. Wyoming is a state of nothing. Towns like Granger have a population of 126, can you imagine?

The word Wyoming is derived from an Indian word and it means, Great Plains. Great and empty, only 500 000 people live in this state, the 9th biggest state in America. It’s a big desert with some souls on it animals still outnumber humans. If you love sagebrush, dust and flat terrain then you will love that countryside!

Our goal was to drive through it as fast as possible. It took us 5 hours to get through the worst of it. Something weird happened during our Wyoming blitzkrieg – we discovered a beauty in the aridness of the terrain. The sagebrush looked like a Technicolor Coat, purple, orange, yellow and brown intermixed showing off a unique side of the desert.
A little house stood secluded on a hill, screaming out to be noticed in its simplicity. Cows, bison, horses and birds inhabited the desert like teenagers in a shopping mall waiting for the opposite sex to notice them. And we started noticing. I wondered what it must be like growing up in Granger – where everyone knows your name? The ruggedness, obscurity and remoteness evoked a deep yearning in our hearts.

We listened to some tapes in the car. Dan Allander spoke about the importance of our story. We are called to be stewards of the story He wrote in, through and at us. The challenge is to discover the reoccurring themes of our story. Eugene Peterson spoke on Luke 16 and the importance of living the spiritual life in concrete terms and not just abstracts. I thought about a worship evening the other day when we sang about raising our hands to heaven, not one of the 250 people singing raised their hands. We are experts in the abstract, novices in the practicum.

On a soularize tape I realized that you don’t have a vision – or a value statement, YOU ARE a value- and vision statement. What is mine?

We navigated the flat, ordinary terrain and I thought to myself that the terrain was a wonderful depiction of the spiritual life. Most of the spiritual life is hidden in the ordinary day-to-day activities and rhythms.

Entering Teton County was like going to a church camp and having that classic ‘camp-high’. The scenery changed dramatically flat boring terrain morphed into impressive towering mountains. Desert sand changed into singing rivers, every turn in the road revealing a new visual delight. If we didn’t know better we would have thought that all the green of the land packed up and immigrated to the northwest part of the state. Regardless of the why, we were glad.

That evening we booked into a hotel in Jackson. The Best Western Inn Lodge. It had a huge bath with jets in! We had a blast – no pun intended. Will post later on our doings on Friday and Saturday and then on Sunday-Thursday. If you read this far – good job.