Homeward Unbound — Chapter 1: Letting Nature Guide Us

Smith Rock State Park, OR — Photographer: Alicia Swamy

I was at the Kaddy Car Wash the day of our unknown journey to help my wife heal from her mold illness.

The attendant asked, “Where are you going?”

I said, “ I don’t know yet?”

It’s how I’ve always wanted to answer that question.

Our first stop was Bend, OR.

The drive was tragically beautiful. 2020 was an eventful year, most will agree. The Pacific Northwest had its fair share of fires and when driving southeast from Portland, we could see the aftermath devastation. It was a forest of the past, with filaments of burgeoning wild green, homes that were, and black as night mountains.

Like us, nature was also rebalancing. We pulled over to fill our lungs with the cleansing air and took a picture. Alicia looked at me, with smiling eyes, and said, “I feel good.”

We looked at each other as lovers rekindled. Her words were healing for us both since she hasn’t felt well in over a year.

Her words brought light to our situation and gave us hope.

“Hope is a good thing, probably the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” — Stephen King

We checked into a hotel that night, had some Mexican take-out, and called it a night while watching Superstore, which is a hilarious show, and this is coming from an Office fanatic.

The next morning, we ventured to the town of Sisters so I could grab a proper cup of Joe. Sisters is a beautiful town, paved with art galleries, trinket shops, and great coffee. It’s definitely a town for the passerby.

We then went to Smith Rock State Park. The mountainous landscape had us both in an altered state of presence.

It’s when I find myself so encapsulated in the beauty before me, that I temporarily forget myself. I feel nature has the ability to do this, and she teaches us something that can only be comprehended by the individual but is available to the collective, meaning everyone.

Alicia was in a Clubhouse meeting for a project she’s working on to help others who face the same crises she is going through.

Yeah, that’s my wife. Even when she’s not well, she’s trying to help others. My heart is torn that she’s going through so much pain, but lasts only a short time because it’s replaced by her tenacity and strength as she’s fighting to live the best life she can.

She has a YouTube channel where she is educating the world on the seriousness of her illness and advocating for those that suffer like her as a representational voice. She started making videos a few weeks ago and has amassed a small following that’s gaining traction.

While she was on her call, I decided to hike the hardest trail, aptly named Misery Ridge.

I felt good. The air was crisp. I let the oxygen radiate through every cell in my body. My mitochondria were in a frenzy and I was high on my own supply.

The ventilator was brand life.

I felt a feeling that was long lost but came quickly rushing back. Like two friends that haven’t seen each other in some time and yet when they meet, it’s like time hasn’t passed.

The feeling is a touch from the infinite, demanding our attention without trying.

I hiked to the top of the mountain and ventured off the beaten path, which could be a parable for my life. I sat amongst the mountains. I felt an almost magnanimous type of love.

I found myself being grateful for all of life. The good, bad, and ugly.

With rivered tears in my eyes, before me was a vista that defies any painting or photograph. It’s a precious moment, like all our moments, in that, they will never come again.

Nature’s beauty reminds us to slow down. Too often, we are in a constant rat race. Our heads are down, our vision is tunneled, and we are busy working, so eventually and ironically, we don’t have to work.

Important moments pass us often.

Nature helps us recalibrate what’s important.

If you want nature to heal, just be with her. Be in songs of silence and tranquility.

Let her rivers flood the chambers of your heart. Let the echos of the mountains baptize your every wound and listen to the voice within you beckoning to be heard like the pearl in the vast ocean.

Enjoy its beauty as if all of creation was designed for your gaze. It’s a present for us all and its miracle could not be possible without you.

I’ll report back from time to time and share our next whereabouts.

As for right now, we are on the search for healing with no real ideas of a final destination.

We may be lost, but since we are together, perhaps what we’re looking for is what’s in front of us. Well, the romantic in me likes to think so anyway.

I leave you with some words that may add fertility to your spirit.

“Never lost an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until next time.

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