I took a chance last weekend. I found myself in three-plus-foot snow in the Utah mountains backcountry on a pair of snowshoes, amidst winter storm and avalanche warnings. WAY outside my box on so many levels! As Kurt and I broke trail (a lot of work, by the way; I started us off and he took over) the sound of “cannons” permeated the stillness. The “avalanche boys” were out we had been told. It was an eerie sort of comfort to be on that mountain, just the two us and those unseen but definitely heard forces protecting us as we journeyed on. It was a huge lesson in trust for me. In retrospect I was uncharacteristically not worried. Maybe I thought Kurt had some magical power to keep us safe. Or the avalanche boys did. Or maybe I was just naïve! Hindsight is 20/20 they say.
It was a special weekend in so many ways, about the closest to bliss as I’ve ever been. Great company, great food, a fire that didn’t work out so well but it just added to it all. Being snowed in made it all the better. I had a massage the day before the shoeshoeing. Kurt said I came back “so (expletive deleted) relaxed!” Imagine being that relaxed and tenfold more being out on the mountain that day.
I returned to Santa Fe and was feeling quite triumphant when I learned that a young lady died on the mountain just a couple of hours after we had been there. The avalanche boys could only do so much I suppose. It was another moment of eerie comfort. My heart went out to her and hers but at the same time I also felt especially protected and safe.
In retrospect (again) it seems strange. I remembered that Kurt and I had a very tense time right about that very time and it was hard to get through it. It was uncharacteristic for us and it definitely deflated the high I had been on. It was almost as if the energy of what was happening on the mountain above was not going to let our celebration continue in that moment. But we got through it. Again protected and safe. And feeling triumphant.
It’s been about ten days now and what I come away with is that we are all protected and safe in our own way and despite the avalanches we may encounter. It doesn’t mean that tragedy does not strike, or that we will never have quarrels, and that things we wish had not come will never happen. It does mean that when these things do happen they will always open us to opportunities unimagined before. Sometimes they will rip us open to those opportunities. It just depends on how willing we are to go.
I cannot know what it meant for the girl on the mountain to die as she did that day, but I trust in my belief that she was opened up to the next step in her journey, having succeeded through the steps she had already taken. She was young, 21. But age has no bearing. We move forward when and with what we are given, transformed, dying every day to who we are and reborn every new day to who we have become. And we triumph. We can always triumph.
God bless the unnamed young lady, and us all.
With Blessings and Gratitude,
from Santa Fe, New Mexico