“The Lord said to Christina: ‘Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from you mother’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make you name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.’ Christina went as the Lord directed her, and Ginger went with her.” (from Genesis 12:1-4a, modified).
Past the woods and rolling fields of Wisconsin to the plains and badlands of North Dakota, across the vast expanses of Montana and through high mountain passes in the Rockies to the misty Cascades, all the way to the ends of America, where the ground meets the sea, she went. And an orange tabby cat, wide-eyed but trusting, went with her, as well as parents, who accompanied her on the journey westward to see where she was going before turning back for their home country.
|North Dakota, so flat and barren under a huge dome of sky. Just earth and sky, touching each other.|
|Train rolling through North Dakota plains.|
|Big clouds in a North Dakota sky.|
The patron saint of travelers, St. Raphael the Archangel, meets us in Fargo in the Healing Shrine at Sts. Joachim & Ann Catholic Church. "Take courage, the Lord has healing in store for you, so take courage!"
|My first glimpse of the Rockies in Montana|
|Heading for the mountains.|
|"Climb every mountain / Search high and low, |
Follow every highway / Every path you know.
Climb every mountain / Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow / Till you find your dream!" - The Sound of Music
|Our Lady of the Rockies|
Before departure, as I sifted through my stuff, making piles of what to leave behind and what to give away and what to take with me, I found a bookmark. The picture on it drew my eye because it looked like Washington – tall, evergreen pines pointing their treetops into the sky, mirrored in a crystal lake below.
The verse on the card read: “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Book of Ecclesiastes). On the back of the card was written a note to my dad in my grandmother’s handwriting, “Happy 27th Birthday, Gene!”
Sometimes God gives us obvious directional signs and this was one of them. I knew this had floated down from heaven from my own father. What did his 27th year hold for him? I wondered. Was it also a time of taking leaps of faith? He'd kept the bookmark until he died and it had ended up in my box of cards to speak to me on this day in my 27th year.
As I said goodbyes to home and family, one of my friends told me he likes to think of the world as having two suns – one always setting, the other always rising. Somehow that mystery got captured in a photograph I took of the sun setting over Lake Washington just after my arrival.
Standing on the edge of cliffs, sloping down to the Puget Sound, she peered out across the expansive water and stared as far as she could over the tops of sails in the marine harbor and out towards the far islands and mountains and prayed, “I have given up over half of belongings, and I have left family and friends behind. You have called me, Lord, and I am here. Your servant is listening.”