Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blog 11- Thoughts on the Book "Through the Painted Desert"

I found it amazing how well this book tied in with where my thoughts have been all semester. It was a great book to read.

There was not one favorite part for this book for me. I appreciated the imagery throughout the book. It was almost as though you were sitting in the desert with them while they contemplated their broken down van or that you were in the bottom of the Grand Canyon with Donald as he suffered from blistered feet and screaming calves. But what I connected with the most was all the self-talk times that he went through as he was questioning God, questioning life, questioning the hows and whys of what really matters.
Because I am a single mom with three kids I cannot just drop everything and travel across several states looking for a deeper meaning in all this. However, I can be envious, to a degree, of those who can. I love my children and I am a homebody at heart. But I do get itchy feet at times. I long to go explore where the road goes, but when I have found the end of it I am ready to come back to the place I call home. This is not to say I am a person who is never satisfied where she is- when home wanting to be gone and when gone longing for home. This is to say that when I do go exploring I come to a place where I value what I have all the more Having said all of that I feel that there is something to be said for getting away from what you know and feel comfortable in. Is it truly comfort or is it really complacency? Do we go along with the flow of life, not questioning because it is easier than stopping and thinking it through? On pages 10 and  11 the author begins talking about how when we are living in the day to day of life it is really the how questions we are asking: how do I get money? How do I find happiness? When what we really need to be asking ourselves is why we are doing what we are doing and how it plays into the big picture of life? He says that when he started questioning the whys he faith began to get shaky but so did his ideas of what he had thought was valuable in life. How often do we stop and question the validity of our presuppositions?
On page 24 he hit on a point that I think gets at what I was trying to say above about getting out of the complacency of day to day life in order to take a fresh look at the life I am living. He says, “It's interesting how you sometimes have to leave home before you can ask difficult questions...it's funny how you can't ask difficult questions in a familiar place.” It is like the passage in the bible that talks about the man who looks at himself in the mirror and walks away and forgets what he looks like. We are so familiar to ourselves that we don't really see ourselves. Our lives are kind of like that, so familiar to us that we don't really look at them until we see them from the angle of an unfamiliar place and then we look and say, “How did that piece get in there? Why am I doing things that way?”
I found the passages that the author spread throughout the book to be especially thought-provoking for me given the questioning I am doing of my life right now. I have already talked about how I am a divorcee` who never wanted to be raising three kids on her own, however it turns out that getting a divorce was the lesser of two evils in the story of my life. Now my children and I are learning how to create a new family structure that does not include their father. How do we create a whole in a unit that should have another piece? I could spend the rest of my life being bitter, questioning how he could do that to his family? Or even asking why it had had to happen to us? I would rather, like the author come to the point where I can say, “this is what I was made to do, this is who I was made to be” (p.77) and I can know that by not teaching bitterness to my children, with God's help we made lemonade out of the lemons life dealt us.

The other life lesson that goes right along with the walk that Father and I have been going through this semester has to do with the baggage I carry around with me, we each have our own baggage we lug through life with us. On page 113 our author reminisces about the physical weight in the pack he has just carried down miles into the Grand Canyon. Things that it does not sound like he even looked at- a book of poems- yet he needed to have them. How much stuff do I hang onto in my life, either physically or in my spiritual backpack that I really don't need? Things that are weighing me down and keeping me from the blessings the Lord wants to heap upon my life? Why do I hang onto them so tightly? What kind of a witness could my life be if I were to let go and let God?
I guess my walk away from this book really is “What does my dance with God look like? Do I point others to him when they look at my life?” It was a reminder to me just why I changed my username for many of my accounts 3 years ago. So much of my life I have been determined to do my way all of my life. The reality is that my Life is a Song, everyday, so what kind of a song am I going to make it? Can I reach the end of my day each day knowing that with His help I have done everything I can to reflect His love and His grace to those around me? That there is nothing I am missing in my life story? Am I teaching my children this same lesson? I don't have to travel the highways and byways in order to find that meaning, but I can take a short pilgrimage- which might look more like a retreat- to get a refresher perspective on the matter.

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