The Cardinal Second

I should have just waited. I should have been still. These thoughts have been playing on repeat in my head since the moment she flew away. Have you ever had an experience that held the intensity of a year of wonder punched into a one-second time span? I don’t think I knew it was possible. Most breathtaking moments last long enough for us to savor their birth, bloom, and death – if only it’s just enough time to notice and know. Some we must tear ourselves away from – a waterfall rushing triumphant down a mountain, the Milky Way dripping jeweled in a South Dakota sky – to get back in rhythm with our lives, while their timeless beauty continues suspended. I have no photograph for the moment of which I am speaking. I tried to take a picture of her, but the motion of my hand startled her away. It was a few weeks ago in my parents’ driveway. I had pulled up to their house after work for a visit and to take home more of my things they’d been graciously storing in their garage. The morning’s gentle rain had slowed to a drizzle, and the tall shrubs lining the driveway were bristling with water droplets. Then, a soft thud. A female cardinal had landed in the top-right corner of my windshield, apparently after a bug to eat. She looked young and round, and her drenched brown and light red feathers made her look slightly confused and disheveled. Instinctively, my hand reached for my iPhone, but not just because taking pictures of wildlife is the most thrilling kind of photography...

Throwback Thursday: Star-gazer (Age 15, 2002)

I thought this would go well with this week’s post about the Milky Way (Finding Mystery)! It was written during that time in my life when I was constantly stealing away to my parents’ back yard to lie enraptured under the stars. Enjoy!   Star-gazer Ashley Katherine Denning August 21, 2002 A Psalm Night falls, And my dreams awaken As each star appears And forms the detail of my thoughts. You come And meet me here While the quiet of the earth Surrounds me like harmony. There’s nothing between us but the sky. But what a veil With which You cover Your glory! Is this merely a taste? How can I lie beneath The splendor of the Heavens, And then realize I’ve only reached The threshold of Your majesty? But it’s a good start. I’ll hold my breath and wait for You to breathe. I’ll close my eyes and imagine what can be. I’ll open my heart and let You fill me once more, O Lover of my soul! Can we meet...

Finding Mystery

Last week, I wrote that this Road Trip Moon was putting me at the edge of my comfort zone. We have been on the road for 2 weeks and 2 days, and now I can say that brushing my teeth in a Walmart bathroom isn’t as uncomfortable as it seemed at first – especially now that I know how many traveling families stay in Walmart parking lots when they’re en route to their next destination. And sleeping in the Runner has actually been quite cozy! The other night I acquired a large teddy bear (Harold) that serves as a multi-use pillow and happiness generator.   Those blurry comfort-zone lines are still present, however. They just exist in my mind. Every now and then, we’ll be driving through expansive landscapes such as the ones in Montana – amber waves of grain, big sky capping it all like a deep bowl – and my brain will kick into productive planner mode. I’ve got to continue my job hunt! says my brain. I reach for my phone to look at my job-hunting apps, and… there’s no signal. So I’m forced to rest. I’m luckily forced to let it all go for a few more weeks and be open and empty, ready to be filled with the goodness of this great earth. You see, when you head out to places where cell phone signal can’t reach, you end up stumbling upon mystery. It happened one night as we were driving west through South Dakota. The stars were bright jewels beckoning, so we opened the sun roof to enjoy them rushing past. The Bear said, “Let...

Unsettled

This road trip is wonderfully unsettling. It is every bit at the edge of my comfort zone as I expected, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The stretching is causing me to open myself up to… be more unsettled. Unsettled is the perfect word because the growing of roots has been suspended. Flight is all I know. Somehow it breaks open my mind and makes me want to write to the unconventional rhythms spilling out. Therefore, I would like to offer a succession of thoughts that have strung themselves together in my mind: Photograph: My life feels like this broken-down lumber train. It’s been cleared of most of the things that filled it to the brim. But now it’s not weighed down by the business of life, and it lets the light through. It’s ready for a new destination, but not yet. For now, it will just be. Gentle wind and golden light are its delightful company. Song Lyrics: “In Exile” by Thrice I am an exile – a sojourner; A citizen of some other place. All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror, But I know one day I’ll see face to face. I am a nomad – a wanderer; I have nowhere to lay my head down. There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m moving on. I’m not settling for this unsettling town. My heart is filled with songs of forever – Of a city that endures, where all is made new.   Verses of Old: Genesis 35:1-3 – “God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and...

Throwback Thursday: From the Road (Age 16, 2004)

My sweet Grandma Katherine keeps journals. She has for years, and she recently told me she calls all of her musings “Nuts and Nuggets.” I adore this humorous lens she has taken on her own writings! I know a lot of my own ramblings are of the nutty variety, but every now and then, a golden nugget surfaces. The following little nugget was found in one of my tiny spiral notebooks from age 16. It was written during a family road trip from Tennessee to Texas in January of 2004. I thought it would be appropriate for Throwback Thursday, as I am currently on the road again, enjoying a splendidly unconventional honeymoon (Road Trip Moon :). It seems that, once again, there are some lessons I could learn from my younger self. — “Lindsey,” I whisper for the umpteenth time, “kick mom.” We’re smushed in the back seat of the Camry on our way to Dallas, Texas. Mom and Dad have been taking turns driving for 11 hours straight through the night. I keep watching Mom because she has to slap herself and bounce in her seat to stay alert!!! It’s funny, but a little nerve-racking too. After yet another sign that she will conk out any second, I whisper, “Mom, I can drive.” “Just rest,” she replies. Just rest? I can’t! I’m afraid she’s gonna run off the road… I mean, is risk really necessary?   That’s when I hear the echo of Your words to me, Lord. “Come to Me all you weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Why are You driving my life...

Road-Trip Moon

  It’s 11:04 pm. We’ve spent most of the day driving through the lovely hills and pastures of Kentucky, and I’m stretched out in the back of the Runner while The Bear drives us on to South Bend, Indiana. Today was the first full day of our Road Trip Honeymoon, and what a stark contrast between this multi-week, car-camping excursion and the restful retreat we took in Newport, Tennessee for 2 days after the wedding! One might be inclined to ask why a gal such as myself would even want to take such a nontraditional trip for her honeymoon. I may have asked myself this very question a few times today. It definitely takes some getting used to… maybe even some self-convincing. So here is a list I’m forming for myself as much as for my curious readers: Top 5 Reasons to Rock this Road-Trip Moon 5. I’m stretched out in the back of the Runner writing. I’m doing my favorite thing, and it just happens to be from a mobile hotel that takes me to all these interesting places that have infinite inspirational potential. 4. After months of moving home to Tennessee and planning and throwing a simple yet nevertheless exhausting wedding celebration, this trip forces me to literally rest: to sometimes get out of the Runner and explore, but, so far, to mostly sit and watch the beauty on all sides as we pass through breathtaking landscapes. 3. This trip gives my Hubby Bear and me a chance to establish our values, priorities, and routines before we let the everyday business of setting up our new life together distort...