I just finished reading a wonderful book by Donald Miller, native Texan, current Portlander, and author of Blue Like Jazz. This book, Through Painted Deserts, really struck home with me since it is about Don's journey from Texas to Oregon and what he learned about "light, God, and beauty" along the way. Here's a quick synopsis:
"Fueled by the belief that something better exists than the mundane life they've been living, free spirits Don and Paul set off on an adventure-filled road trip from Texas to Oregon in search of deeper meaning, beauty, and an explanation for life. Many young people dream of such a trip, but few are brave enough to actually attempt it."
This book fell into my hands with perfect timing. Every now and then, on a normal day, for no particular reason I ask myself, "What the heck am I still doing in Portland?" There is a back and forth struggle between living in an amazing place where I am constantly being challenged, learning about myself, having once-in-a-lifetime experiences, being forced out of my comfort zone, and experiencing real community... and at the same time missing my family, longing for the deep relationships of friends I grew up with, wanting to be in a familiar place, wishing I felt settled, and growing tired of missing out on the life I used to know.
Through Painted Deserts reminded me that life is a story made up of many journeys along the way; and each of those journeys helps us understand a little more of what life is all about. Some of my favorite quotes that really spoke to me are:
- "Are we on a pilgrimage?" he asks. "I don't know," I tell him. "Maybe we're all on a pilgrimage... Maybe it's all one trip, one big road trip through the cosmos, through the nothingness. Maybe we're all going somewhere. Or really, maybe we are all being taken somewhere." "Where are we going?" I ask. "Maybe it isn't for us to decide, just to give in to it... It is whatever God wants it to be. Maybe we are just supposed to trust that He won't beat us up when we get there. Maybe we are supposed to trust the He is good."
- And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?
- Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.