Oh yes, the sun. I repeated these words silently as I ran down the road, navigating gently sloping roads with no sidewalks in a close-to-gated community in southern California. I smiled broadly as the sun shone from its place in the brash blue skies, skies so bright and deep blue they looked unreal. I rarely wear sunglasses and use sunscreen at a minimum so I just concentrated on soaking in the Vitamin D in a curious hope that it would keep me sheltered from the impenetrable sky of grey that awaited me back home.
I ran twice, slept thrice, and casually but mindfully hiked for an afternoon through Joshua Tree National Park during a weekend getaway with good friends. It was my first time experiencing this strange and beautiful landscape of sand and rock and shadow light. The famous Joshua trees stand small and twisted, dark green and spiky. They collapse curiously under the weight of their years. We learned that it takes nearly a century before they fully decompose, and we observed toppled trees in this process of half-life, half-death, as the green subsides and the grey-brown seizes their limbs in the desert.
Heading out without cell phone or watch, I quickly got lost during my first run in the neighborhood where we had rented a lovely, spacious bungalow to welcome a dear friend into her 40th year. After running about 30 minutes, I realized I had no idea which way to turn. The palm tree I’d chosen as a land mark looked exactly like dozens of others I’d observed along the way. Uh oh.
In my mind’s eye I heard the inevitable dialog between me and the only person I could find on the streets, a gardener or carpenter working on a property in the neighborhood.
“Señor, buen dia. Estoy buscando una casita en la esquina del Camino Sur con la Calle… Verano? Vespero? Ummm. Se queda cerca de un arbolito de palma. La conoce Ud?”
My ineptitude at navigation is embarrassing.
Just as I was about to give up and walk, I turned a corner and spotted a sign. Vespero! Yes! This is my house!
I entered the house briskly and drank a large glass of water. I’m not used to the bright sun and its powers to dehydrate, but what it gives back is so worth it. The sun poured its energy into my body and spirit. For three days I laughed and talked and listened to a handful of thoughtful, intelligent, funny, warm, beautiful women, one of whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the very first time. I also got to do some not-thinking, not-talking, and not-doing, which was also wonderful.
My return home yesterday was lovely. It wasn’t raining, but it was overcast and chilly. At home we lit candles and fired up the Christmas lights. The boys settled into their typical half-love, half-hate relationship as they built structures from Legos and blocks and random stuff around the house and watched Scooby Doo and built a fort with pillows and blankets and flashlights. After they were tucked in, I discovered a book that a friend has passed on months ago that I hadn’t cracked, and I dove in, glass of wine in hand, letting the long weekend linger.
This is an amazing song and story by an artist who inexplicably seems to know my own heart. Then I realized that perhaps it’s my heart that knows the song. It’s a cover of Jeff Buckey’s version, which is also gorgeous.
P.S.S. The most common definitions of Hallelujah refer to an exclamation of praise to God and/or an expression of relief or positive overwhelm.
Photo credit to Sasha Muench. December 2012.