My Painted Desert: O J A I

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We want it all, don’t we? The excitement and opportunity of city life, along with the quaint, peaceful serenity of being far from traffic, overpopulation, and constant work. Living in balance isn’t always an easy thing for me to navigate, but I have found that it is crucial to my overall health. There truly is a time and season for everything. Sometimes the hustle is necessary, but there is also a time to turn it all off and get out. Every once in a while, I need to swap my city lights and street noise for sunsets and crickets. While I must admit I love living within walking distance to grocery stores, shops, movie theaters, and 4 Starbucks’, my busy mind sometimes needs to feel small in this great big world.

I recently spent a couple of weeks in upper Ojai, where I found balance, breath, and renewal that my soul had been depleted of…where the definition of “fast food” meant going for a walk and picking tomatoes and peppers, rather than taking my Aveo through a drive-thru window. While in the midst of nature, it felt only right that Brian and I began reading, “Through Painted Deserts” by Donald Miller. For anyone who is currently feeling overwhelmed with the day-to-day routines in life, my hope is that my Ojai photographs and these quotes from DM will be a breath of fresh mountain air for you. Seek rest. Seek adventure. Seek the life you need and desire.

“And if these mountains had eyes, they would wake to find two strangers in their fences, standing in admiration as a breathing red pours its tinge upon earth’s shore. These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, long to thunder praise but stand reverent, silent so that man’s weak praise should be given God’s attention.” 
_MG_6688“I could not have known then that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing.”

_MG_7005“It’s funny how you can’t ask difficult questions in a familiar place, how you have to stand back a few feet and see things in a new way before you realize nothing that is happening to you is normal.”

_MG_6648“I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.”

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“Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.”

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“So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right.”

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“We get one story, you and I, and one story alone….It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.”

_MG_6509Nothing is normal. It is all rather odd, isn’t it, our eyes in our heads, our hands with five fingers, the capacity to understand beauty, to feel love, to feel pain.”

_MG_7030“When you build a city near no mountains and no ocean, you get materialism and traditional religion. People have too much time and lack inspiration.”

_MG_7048“Life is a dance toward God, I began to think. And the dance is not so graceful as we might want. While we glide and swing out practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. So we learn to dance with the One who made us. And it is a difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign.”

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“It occurred to me, as it sometimes does, that this day is over and will never be lived again, that we are only the sum of days, and when those are spent, we will not come back to this place, to this time, to these people and these colors, and I wonder whether to be sad about this or to be happy, to trust that these moments were meant for some kind of enjoyment, as a kind of blessing. And if feels, tonight, as if there is much to think about, there is much we have been given and much we have left behind. The smell of freedom is as brisk as the air through the windows. And there is a feeling that time itself has been curtained by darkness.”  

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“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?”_MG_6624

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