DAILY PRACTICE: Winter Grit

The weather here in the high plains has been brutal.

Black ice, strong winds, blowing snow. These, along with other conditions of the spirit have driven me further into my already very reserved world of writing and reflection.

At night when work can be carried on no longer the stash of dog-eared maps come out. New Mexico, Arizona, Texas. I circle border towns with my pen — Taos, Sedona, Terlingua, Bisbee, Chimayo — tracing the sinewy scenic routes to each through mountains, deserts, and reservations with nail-bitten fingers.

Despite modern convenience this cold has sent me into a reptilian state of shock. Will I make it out alive? Will everyone? And how?
These are the questions that fester for some time, until the warmer weather and longer spells of sunlight appear as promised.

Each season I emerge to the arrival of some sweet and wet spring . Bleary-eyed, perhaps a bit more gaunt, but always grateful. I will forget every mysterious and lonely thought I ever had during January nights such as these.

I love expansive landscapes. Deserts that stretch for miles, lonely highways, bleak and empty prairies. Possessing a gritty sense of grace, their vastness mirrors the depths of the soul that I long to understand within both myself and others. Yet unlike the desert in winter, a human heart rarely remains dormant.

“our mission is to plant ourselves
at the gates of hope
not the prudent gates of optimism which are somewhat narrower
nor the stalwart boring gates
of common sense
nor the strident gates
of self righteousness
— which creak on shrill and angry hinges —
nor the flimsy garden gate of “everything is gonna be all right”
but a very different,
sometimes very lonely place
the place of truth telling
about your own soul first of all and it’s condition
the place of resistance and defiance
the piece of ground from which you see the world
both as it is and how it could be
how it might be
the place from which you glimpse
not only struggle but joy
and we stand there
beckoning and calling
telling people what we are seeing
asking people what they see”

-victoria safford

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