A few weeks ago in the canyons, Jeff and Kesh received news on their sat phone that the North Inlet of Rocky Mountain National Park was burning in a wildfire. I tried to picture it, the ash and decimation, but the only thing I could conjure up were the memories of laughter shared as we crossed over the Continental Divide. I thought about the natural silence that fell over us as we passed by towering peaks and glittering lakes, infinitesimal beings in the face of such beauty; the awe in our hearts as we traveled through what is now a devastated, barren land. As I lay in my sleeping bag that night, the news weighing heavy on my heart, I saw many shooting stars. I found myself wishing that somehow our laughter and joy were still there, stored somewhere safe below the surface, reminding the trees and critters of our love for them.
After receiving the news, I sank into a feeling of hopelessness. A feeling that, at this point, is like an old friend. I have never had a place I love burn. I am not yet sure how to mourn this death. I am especially unsure of how to move forward from it. I questioned how to find hope again, and over the weeks between receiving that news and today, I found it wherever I was with this group.
There is hope to be found in singing bluegrass songs and the laughter that echoes off of canyon walls and stories shared under the desert stars.
There is hope to be found in tears shed and somber discussion and the heavy silence that hangs over a notoriously rowdy group when we recognize the true weight of what is happening in the world.
There is hope to be found in posters about our thoughts on the land filled with words like respect, commons, love, compassion, community, protection, reciprocity, joy, unity, honorable, and stewardship. I wonder how the world would be different if these were the words that came to everyone’s minds when asked what land means to them.
There is more than just hope here, there is love, there is family. Here are eleven people I had never crossed paths with until we met in Boulder, with hearts open but walls up. The mountains have a way of drawing you out; we were all drawn together. I find hope in their anger and their sorrow, in their familiar footsteps, in their poetry and ponderings. This is family if I’ve ever known it. So now I hope for reconciliation, togetherness, and healing. I have seen it here, and I know that we are only as powerful as we are loving.