So in accordance with my emotional distress expressed in the last blog post, I took a road trip last weekend to Oregon. I’ve never truly been to Oregon before -driven through on the way to Washington, but not enjoyed Oregon for itself. Since I want to visit all 50 states in my life, I decided it was time. It is also where that heartbreaking writer grew up, and somehow in my heart I knew that I could get some healing by seeing some of the things and places he promised he’d show me when he took me home to meet his parents…Which he never did.
So I took off last Friday night, by myself, in a 13-year-old car, for a 2500 mile trip circumferencing the beautiful state of Oregon. And here is what I discovered:
- Water brings life. As I drove from Idaho and eastern Oregon to Portland in western Oregon, there was a marked change in the scenery: from brown to green the closer I got to the ocean. Every green you can imagine on the spectrum, and trees taller than you can possibly feel comfortable standing under. It was inexpressibly beautiful – breathtaking. And simply because there was more water. This point was sharpened further when I made it to the coast and found anemones in the tide pools: the ones that were out of the water slumped and shriveled and lost their vibrant neon green color. Those that were still submerged looked glorious and healthy. I knew the ones that looked sad now would look beautiful again at high tide, and I realized that the Waters of Life can restore all health.
- Water also destroys. All over the coast there were broken rocks and torn trees repeatedly ravaged by the relentless waves which raged against them. I stood below Heceta Head lighthouse, gazing into the ocean below, watching a jagged rock as it was drowned over and over by the furious sea. The water covered it, and swept away, allowing the rock to breathe for just a second before the next wave would come crashing down. Some of the waves didn’t cover the rock all the way. Some swells were so deep you couldn’t even tell there was a rock there. With every ebb and flow, I knew that tiny chunks of the rock were being washed away, the weakest parts tumbling first and exposing the rock beneath, which then would have its turn to prove whether it was weak and would fall, or strong enough to withstand the perpetual tempest. The Waters of Life restore health, but they also eliminate weakness.
- Water must work with the earth, fire, and air to create and sustain beauty. The Oregon coast wouldn’t be as awe-striking as it is without all four of the elements: water to bring life, earth to maintain it. Fire to purify, and air to sustain it. The landscape is only as rugged as it is because if the volcanoes in its history. The contrasts of earth and water are only as poignant as they are because each has its individual strengths that go unyielded to the other. And the air carries it all: the wind and water and light that enrich the life which steadfastly grows. Point being, life has no meaning when it’s lived alone. Just look at the moon, beautiful as it is, there is no life, no diversity there. No one is meant to be alone.
- Out of great destruction comes great beauty. On my last day in Oregon I visited Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake was created when the bowl of magma inside the mountain built up so much pressure that a ring of vents cracked to the surface of the mountain, releasing magma and volcanic gases, while the peak of the mountain in the center of the ring crumbled into the bowl of magma below. The mountain was previously the highest peak in the area, now reduced to rubble and cooling lava. Over the next 7000 years, an annual average of 44 feet of snow created the lake within the smoking crater. Crater Lake is one of the purest sources of water in the world, and the reason it is such a glorious (TARDIS) blue is because layer upon layer of crystal clear water reflects the blue light back, compounding the depth of the blue. It’s absolutely gorgeous. But it started with the violent end of a majestic mountain. I’m sure the mountain and the life upon it felt it was the most horrific apocalypse possible, but now it is one of the most serene and gorgeous places I’ve been on this planet.
Life throws a lot of junk at you, to put it lightly. Sometimes you’re drowning. Sometimes you’re crumbling into burning hot magma. But little by little, the Waters of Life will come. Sometimes it feels like they’ll drown you more, sometimes it feels like they won’t come for years, sometimes it feels like they come so little at a time that they’ll never make a difference. But hold on to them. Store them in your soul. They will change you. As surely as they will come, I promise you, they will smooth your soul, wash out the weak parts, and fill you with the most profound beauty.
I went on this trip around Oregon seeking desperately for this healing. I found it; I found better. I found the strength to fill the cavernous ruins of my desolate volcano with cleansing, pure, radiant blue water. To change into something more than what I was.
People go through life seeking always to maintain the status quo. But if that volcano had maintained its status quo, we wouldn’t have this unreasonably gorgeous lake. Who decided the status quo was the best anyway? You can never keep it. Every day is an experience you’ve never had before. Change is hard, but so is everything worth it. Like the waves of the sea, if you resist, it’ll knock you down. But if you dive in, you’ll swim farther than you ever could’ve on your own. All life must change.
There is beauty in breaking so far that what was there before cannot be restored. It gives you the opportunity to become what you always wanted to be. I know so many people who hang on to such silly things in their lives, yet continue in misery as they are unable to gain the things they wish. Let go of what you are; become what you seek to be. One of my favorite quotes by Joseph Campbell:
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
My heart soars at the opportunity to rebuild, to fill my crater with ultimate serenity.
I am not as I once was. I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am radiant as the sun.