William Wordsworth’s lament “the world is too much with us” captures my current mood. I would summarize the past 18 months in a single word: loss. A brutal, isolating pandemic, my mother’s failing health, disrupted relationships — all elements of prolonged mourning and dislocation. Like those first moments after stepping off the Tilt-A-Whirl at the state fair, I feel disoriented and a bit nauseous. My heart and mind demand a time out, away from the world, a return to the wild places that ground me. In response, I planned a soul retreat and headed to our favorite little cabin in Dubois, Wyoming this week.
This little ranching community has been a bright thread woven through our family story for more than 40 years. Without even a single traffic light or fast food restaurant, Dubois invites its guests to relax. Exhale. Breathe deeply the sage-scented air.
The simplicity of the town echoes in its residents. Unpretentious, real, grounded folks. Friendly without being in your business. Rolling through town, I return the two-fingered wave of every passing pick-up. This enduring symbol of Western neighborliness sure takes me back. I’m home.
The cabin, too, feels like home. With the exception of a few days with girlfriends and a few days with my favorite fella, I’ll spend the bulk of my 16 days alone with my dog. I’ve never done this before. Will I get sick of myself by Day 3? Or might I slide right into permanent hermithood? The jury is out.
This much I know: I will not get bored. A stack of books and several writing projects will occupy much of my day, but I will nap at random and head outdoors whenever the spirit moves. Camera around my neck, I love the thrill of expectation around every curve of a dirt road.
It’s my first time to be out here so late in the fall, and I thought the trees would be stripped of their color. What a delightful surprise to be wrong! Vibrant golds mix with bare silvery branches creating a mysterious landscape. The beauty of this place varies by season but never disappoints.
I’m so grateful for this time, this place, today. I will read, and think, and nap, and explore. I will worship and pray and listen as I spread the ashes of my grief across these wild places. And I will raise hands of praise to a faithful God who restores my soul.