That Wild Road

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We were standing together on the southern slope when she showed me where the roof came clean off of her neighbor’s barn. Her own barn had lost just a bit of trim, she said. Though it did clock her mother-in-law on the shoulder as they came out to check on the animals. Still. They were blessed. 

I had no words. I lived in a yurt, just sticks and canvas, through that same stormy night. Except that I had no idea. The wind was loud, we noticed, but we didn’t realize the strength of it until we drove out the next day and found tall trees laid down across the road. Maybe it wasn’t so powerful where we were; we’re lucky to be tucked into the shoulder of the mountain. But then again maybe we were just a little dumb. 

My favorite storm story out there is my mother’s. She was a young girl, in a Montana blizzard, on a horse named Shorty Bill. When she realized she couldn’t see the road, she put her head down and gave the horse his head. She thought she would be giving it up for lost, until she lifted her head and saw that the horse had brought her home. 

Storms ask for this, dumb, animal intelligence. And trust. Put your head down. Follow guts or faith into the dark. 

Figure it this way. You can worry about it or not worry about it, but what difference does it make? If you can’t control the winds? The midst of the storm is not a place for nerves. 

This is what I think of, when I think of Jesus being able to calm the storm. Or of that sometimes shaming call, “Oh ye of little faith.” I think of putting my head down, and giving the horse his head. I think of shaking off the nerves, because at that point what does it matter anyway. I wonder what would it be like, to live my entire life this way.

Oh, I’m not saying let’s call up all the storms. I’ve been there, too. And many of us, I think, know that particularly wild road. Some of us are good in crisis, and that makes us feel strong. Some of us love the crisis because it makes us feel alive. We’ll find them, or we’ll make them, or we’ll borrow other people’s. Ultimately, those cycles never satisfy. 

But the part where you release all the layered tensions of self-obsession, and all the related concerns for appearance and propriety and positioning? The part where you are focused on what really matters, and just plumb not worried about the rest? I wonder what it would be like to live my entire life like that

Would I trust more? Would I rely more heavily on relationship and community? Would I remember what it means to care? Would I be less defensive under criticism? Would I be less numb?

It isn’t the storm part of the storm story that calls up my heart, or makes me hope for my best self. It’s the faith part. It’s faith right through the storm. And realizing that from one view, every moment of this crazy life is weather.

I don’t call up the winds, although I have at times pretended to. And I don’t calm them, either. But I can always loosen my grip. I can reach out into the chaos and confusion with my heart feelers, trusting that my own mute heart knows its way home.

Esther Emery

Esther Emery

Esther lives with her husband and three children on three acres of Idaho mountainside, in a yurt her husband designed and built himself. She's out there in pursuit of self-sufficiency, integrity living and solidarity economy.
Esther Emery
  • Robert Julian Braxton

    loosen the grip, yes

  • Pingback: That Wild Road (at the Mudroom) | Esther Emery()

  • Gayl Wright

    Beautiful, Esther, as always! “It’s the faith part. It’s faith right through the storm. And realizing that from one view, every moment of this crazy life is weather.” What if we did live our lives full of trust in God, dwelling more on what really matters? I think we’d all have less tension, but it’s hard to do isn’t it? I want to learn to live like that all the time. 🙂 Blessings to you Esther!

    • Blessing to you, Gayl! Thanks for thinking this through with us.

  • Wow. Thank you so much, Esther. I will be thinking of that image all day–the storm and the letting go and trusting that the “doing” in response to any storm is trusting it is Jesus who will carry through anything.

  • SimplySuzi

    Oh, wow! There is so much for me to ponder, here. I really need to learn how to trust more, be less fearful and avoidant. There is a difference between tucking your head down, and burying it completely. Thank you, Esther.

    • There is a difference, for sure. Are we still and present in where we are? Or trying to pretend ourselves into another place? PS. Thanks for commenting here, I really appreciate it.

      • SimplySuzi

        Yes, that’s it exactly! Being present is the key. I’m learning that numbing my emotions is doing far more damage than acknowledging uncomfortable feelings. It’s time to trust that faith will open my heart and make room for joy.

  • Did you know that you can take authority over the wind and the waves the way Jesus did? I learned how to do that from Agnes Sanford’s Creation Waits. I read it just in time to pray through a couple of unwelcome and uninvited crises. One of them was my first encounter with tornadoes. I wondered about that strange sensation that had felt like a huge hand pressing me to my knees as I prayed. Was that an effect of the storm or the power of the Holy Spirit? The tornadoes were real enough; I ordered them to be lifted up and they passed over the house. Later, I asked the logical question,”But how do I know they would have harmed us?” The next day I learned those same twisters touched down three miles away from us and took out a barn. It’s not a matter of seeking out crises or enjoying them, God forbid! It’s a matter of knowing how to tap into the resources of God when the trouble arrives. If you can exercise faith in those ways, God will put you where He can use you. Or, He will use you in those uncommon ways where He has put you.

  • pastordt

    Stunning, Esther. Thanks so much.

  • Yes, the heart knows the way home. I cling to that through the storms, through the times I feel I’ve lost direction and my creativity will perish from the overwhelm. I’m so glad to read your words here. This place is a place of beauty and healing, and strengthening hearts. Thank you for your words. (Sorry the comment is so belated! xo)