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Following the Thread of Love

A view of Conception Bay

For the past week, we’ve been travelling down the Baja Peninsula with a few other families that we met in San Felipe. Two days ago, we arrived at Bahia Concepion (Conception Bay) about halfway down the peninsula, and collectively all let out a big exhalation. The highways in Baja are narrow, with nearly non-existent shoulders, and at times it seems as if there is less than a handspan between you and the oncoming eighteen wheeler that is passing. Coming into Mulege and Conception Bay required driving down the “Infernal Grade” or the “Grade from Hell.” It was a harrowing drive – steep, tight curves, sweaty palms kind of stuff. We made it and we plan to stay here for five or six days (or weeks, or months, as we’ve been joking!) I’m relieved. We’ve been moving at a pretty fast pace and my body is ready to settle for a bit. 

As I’ve gotten to know our fellow families better, as we’ve taken walks, sat around campfires, and eaten meals together, they’ve been sharing their “origin stories,” stories about why they are on the road, the lives they lived before they left their ‘sticks and bricks’ home for an RV, and the meaning they are making out of this experience. One of the families we’re with sold their house and hit the road because the mother had serious health challenges and it wasn’t clear how long she had to live. Given that uncertainty, she knew for certain that she wanted to see the country, to experience beauty, to travel, even if she could barely walk. This family has been on the road just a month longer than we have, and this woman (our friend now) is walking, vibrant, full of energy, and has an infectious, easy laugh. This family still travels with a walker in their travel trailer. When they park and set up, the walker gets tucked under the rig, no longer needed, but a reminder of what set them on the road. 

Another family sold their home because their son had serious health problems. Their home, in the South, had a black mold problem. It became clear that unschooling on the road was a pathway toward much needed healing and relief for this family.  Over the months, we’ll also travelled with a single mom who needed the anonymity of the road to leave an abusive relationship.  Our story isn’t as dramatic as, nor did we sell our house and all of our belongings. Looking back, however, I can see that we, too, left for reasons that included healing, re-imagining our way of being as a family, and being open to where the Spirit lead us, as we unhooked from the life we knew. 

In the faith community I served for twelve years, I continually asked the congregation: “Where is love calling us/you next?” And I always reminded the congregation that they could substitute “God” or “life” for love, if that made the question resonate more, but the essence of the question remained: what are you noticing about how the Spirit is stirring in your life? Where is that Spirit calling you?  

As I think about our family and the families we are traveling with (and many of the families we’ve met over the months), I wonder if it’s love that is at the heart of our decisions, if it’s love that propelled us out the door of our homes, our jobs, our old lives? To be clear, this is certainly not a romantic-comedy, Hallmark, gushy-gushy love, but a love that knows life is precious and fleeting. This is a love that looks death – or death-like circumstances – squarely in the face, that doesn’t shy away from what is, and what might be. This is a love that is willing to make hard choices, that prompts us to speak our deepest and truest wants. This is a love that forces us to try something new because what currently is, just isn’t working anymore. In other words, this is a love that is intimately aware that nothing is promised in this life; this is a fierce, burning love that recognizes all we have – our breath, our bodies, our possession – is on loan from the universe itself and will be returned soon enough. And when this love beckons, or opens a door, or plants a seed in us, we follow, we step through, we water and nurture the seed.

I think some form of this love animates many of the families we’ve met (including us), and the choices we’ve all made. We know that we can’t outrun death, but the knowledge of our own mortality forces us to make choices that lead to greater life and love. This can happen whether or not one is on the road.  It can happen anywhere, anytime.  Said another way, love can’t stop death, but death can give love its deepest roots.  In one way or another, many of these families, including our, to some extent, were living in situations where death or death-like circumstances were present – clear that a job no longer fit, that a child’s welbeing was the highest priority, that we wanted to live more deeply before we died, and couldn’t do that without making a significant change..

Truly grasping our finitude and holding it close can be fuel for selling homes, for hitting the road,  for making life changes. We do these things in order to unearth a deeper yes, to grab ahold of a new way of being in the world, to take the journey we will delay no longer.

Note: The internet is pretty slow here; I wanted to share some pictures, but that will have to wait!

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