Reflections from Utah Trip

It is no secret to anyone in my circle of influence that I am so in love with all things…well, many things Utah. It really makes no sense whatsoever because…

I’m not Mormon

I’m not a Conservative Republican

I do not ski (yet)

I’m sure there are more things I am not when it comes to Utah but for whatever reason, when that plane lands at SLC and I make my way out of the jetway…I am home. As in the depths of my being solidly grounded in myself, home.  Over the last five years well meaning friends, family and therapists have attempted to help me understand that this, whatever it is, cannot be healthy for me. To these voices in my life I can only say, “whatever”.

I was met at the airport by dearest friends Craig and Tammy; a retired fire fighter and a master teacher who have used their best gifts in professional lives of service to mankind. Craig was nearly taken by a boogie boarding accident when fierce waves slammed him to the ocean floor followed by two more that didn’t allow him to reach the surface. His last thought was “I hope somebody finds me”. Two nurses came to his rescue in minutes, did CPR hard enough to break his ribs and bring him back to us. He is now living with deep awareness of that the thin space between life and death.

As we headed to Logan, they took me to MY favorite restaurant in Ogden. They planned to do what I loved. In fact taking me to places I loved seemed to bring THEM as much joy as it did me. Throughout the days I was there we would run into their people and all everyone could talk about was the accident and their gratitude that Craig is still here among us. These two live simply, love much and I am always at home in their presence.

I hadn’t told anyone I was going to Utah because I really wanted to spend time focused on the Pettigrews. So when life happened and surprise visits came my way I soaked them up. Tammy spent a day taking her aunt to a doctor’s appointment in Ogden so I ended up spending a day with my dear Mormon sister Shawna and her three kiddos. When you live in a religious culture other than your own, the hardest part is how the “others” treat you. I have to say that Shawna has shown me what real human connection looks like apart from dogma and law. We both have a strong faith in God and it enhances our friendship but we’ve never once tried to convert the other. We enjoyed a slow day with her kids ended by dinner at Chili’s. It was a beautiful day.

Then there was time with Sherrie. Sherrie and her wife Michelle are the poster children for gay marriage in Cache Valley. When the window opened for them to marry, they were the first in the county to do it. The local paper put their picture smack dab on the front page and as they gave the paper the right to use it, anytime marriage equality shows up in the news…there they are. Sherrie is also Buddhist. From the minute I walked into her life for a massage many years ago, we have been friends. I have yet to experience a massage from anyone that brings the balance and healing to my body as one does with her. We dropped into Caffe Ibis for a bit after my massage and Michelle showed up just in time for a hug. Zen…

And then of course there was the land…a drive up Logan Canyon to Bear Lake on a clear sunny day refreshed me in too many ways to count. Daily seeing the favorite peaks from the valley floor in Logan it was as if each one said, “Welcome home, we’ve missed your gaze”.  All of these places were a refuge for me when life was really tough and therefore, they are etched into my heart and soul.

I returned home to a house in Minnesota without the happy face of my Kirby dog greeting me as I walked in from the garage.  Part of the fun of going away is coming home and meeting him at the door. After much emotion was cried out last night, I am feeling a little better. Life’s pain in all things seems to be equivalent to its joy in all things.

If you’ve made it this far through my emotional babbling (particularly grueling for my Minnesota friends) please take this with you. Even if it often hurts like hell, living and loving deeply is what life is really all about, so just do it.

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