Wednesday, December 14, 2011


My sister came to visit me this weekend. I looked forward to it all week, having her presence with me. Then Sunday morning she woke up sick, and everything I had envisioned for the day—bringing her with me to church, venturing downtown to the bookshop, slipping into the ice cream shop, laughing together over a bowl of popcorn—couldn’t happen.

It strikes me that very few things turn out the way we envision them. I can’t be mad at my sister. Hardly even disappointed really. She can’t help it. I am compelled with compassion instead. So I join her for bits of the afternoon on the couch and we watch a movie. It’s not an intimate, joyful sense of being together, heads bent over common intrigue and experience. It’s more of a complicit agitation, me holding her feet in my lap while she tosses and turns on the other side of the couch. Me sitting quietly with my book on the next couch, just to be in the room with her, while she slips into another fitful sleep.

But we are together.

It strikes me that community is rarely what one expects. I tend to envision ideal relationships, as if I were an artist capable of crafting another’s response to who I am. It takes two to make a friendship which means there will always be factors of the unknown. Though what I am left with is never quite what I imagined, perhaps the point isn’t the trip to the bookstore, or the shared ice cream cone. The point is being together. The point is staying when I’d rather not be in a room that could make me sick, when it seems easier to slip out and find someone else. But that is just the moment when I can’t—when I shouldn’t—because my presence is not just a pleasure; it’s a need.

I’m not very often good at community. Sometimes I tell myself it is easier to be alone because I fear the sickness of being wounded. But the first step to staying in this place of relationship and forcing myself to engage is to realize that my ideals are just ideals. When it feels different than I anticipated, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed; it just means I forgot to take into account those unknown factors I can’t control. It means that God has something bigger in mind. Something messier. Something, I’m trusting, in it’s time, more beautiful.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The People's City Mission

The men at the People’s City Mission are like the children in the slums of India. They come in need, but they mumble and complain, turn their noses up at what is offered, try to weasel their way into getting something more. I look at their grown-up forms and see the eyes of the small brown children in the slums with their manipulative puppy-dog eyes: Please, teacher. One more teacher.

I begin to think that people hard on their luck will be docile and grateful to receive whatever is free. I thought that once about children as they played with legos in India. I know better than to think that now. I am tempted to judge and say it’s wrong for grown men to complain or sneak extra food when others have gone out of their way to give them what is placed in their hands. I am tempted to think that they should be content. But then I think of the way I also try to get everything I can out of the dollars I’ve been given, how I look for sales, or advertisements with the word ‘free’, or fail to argue when my mother slips gift cards into my purse or offers to let me bring my laundry home. I too try to manipulate the system. I think it’s a part of human nature, the will to survive. I look at myself and call it frugality. I look at these hungry men and call it ungratefulness. The difference is a dainty word called hypocrisy.

The writer in me has to stop and wonder at their stories. Why are each of them here tonight? Where are their families, their children, their wives? Did they ever have any? How have they been wronged, abused, discarded, blamed? Perhaps they’ve done something to deserve being here, accepting handouts because they cannot feed themselves. Perhaps. But maybe they haven’t in the human sense of fairness and equality. Maybe they got dealt a bad hand. And maybe I’ve sinned just as much as them. Maybe there is nothing separating me for a mission food line than the grace of God and shepherding of people who care.

I can be so quick to judge, but tonight I want to hold my tongue and ask God to show me the difference between what I see and what he understands.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


There are a lot of things people find to be afraid of: pain, intruders, poverty, abandonment, dying. I know that I don’t quite think like most people when I don’t feel fear when I should, or at least when other people think I should. These things don’t frighten me. I’m told boarding a plane to the other side of the world—alone—where I have no previous relationship on foreign soil would be something most people fear. I forget to bat an eye.

So many times I look at the world I’m surrounded by and I see plastic. Pasted happiness, makeshift fortresses. A culture that spends its life making a name for itself without realizing it could all crack so easily. Or melt. Or blow to smithereens.

When fear makes me cringe, when it breathes down my neck and sends shivers down my spine, when it brings hot tears to my eyes until there is nothing left to cry—this is why:

I’m afraid of forgetting that the walls are plastic. I’m afraid of rhythms and normalcy messing with my vision, lulling me to sleep like a child in its cradle until I forget that I was made for something else outside the plastic. I’m afraid of being comfortable, afraid of wasting my time on trivialities when there is something more important to be done. I’m afraid of loving my life more than I love my God, afraid of reaching that point without even realizing it.

This would be my nightmare, my daymare, the horror film of my life. It keeps me praying for grace, pinching myself to make sure I’m awake, asking for vision to see beyond the plastic. God, don’t ever let me come close to normal.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Because God is bigger...

Sometimes you step into something and you don’t realize how much it’s going to cost you. But when that moment of exhaustion and overwhelmed and frustration, that moment when you wonder if it’s all worth it, that moment when you want to throw up your hands and run away to hide in a comfy couch with a good book in a place where no one else can reach you to ask you to do one more thing—that is the moment when you must remember that God knew how much this was going to cost in the moment when he brought you into it, even though you didn’t. That is the moment when you trust him, with every raw, aching muscle of your brain and heart. You trust that he has something beautiful to pull out of the middle of all this work, that there is some indelible reason why he’s moving in this way that pushes and prods and presses the clay of your soul. You cling to his vision with tenacity that comes from a grace bigger than yourself. You cling even though it’s a vision you can’t quite see. You surrender your own desires for what you would have wanted when you think of yourself, and you trust that the vision God is working is better than your own. So you get up morning after morning and you do what needs to be done. And you choose joy. Because joy is a choice. Just like obedience.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Window of Timing

God takes an incredible interest in the small details of our lives. Whoever thinks differently can argue with me till their blue in the face and I still won’t believe them. Today proves it.

I’m moving to Lincoln next month to begin working on my masters in writing fiction. Yesterday I drove down to go apartment shopping. I’d never done this before. I didn’t really know what I was doing or the best way to go about it. Plus I was devoid of any company to serve as a sounding board for what was there to see (or the absence thereof). I lined up appointments all afternoon and raced from address to address, peeking in so many closets and bathrooms until they all started whirling around in my head.

All that work, and at the end of the day I had only one fairly viable option, but I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t quite the neighborhood I wanted. So 9 o’clock at night I’m crashing at Melissa’s place and scouring craigslist for any new postings. But it was all just so God could prove that he knew what I needed, see if I would trust Him to provide.

“Here’s one on K Street,” I said.

K street?!

Melissa and I looked up at each other. Then out the window. Then back at each other.

“That’s across the street,” we said.

So this morning I got up and called and nervously tried to distract myself while I waited to meet the landlord. I pulled some company along with me for the visit, and we invaded a girl and several guys who were supposed to be moved out but weren’t, prancing into their kitchen discussing dishwashers and electricity as they groggily stared back from couches and a bed. The place didn’t smell like smoke; it was the first thing I noticed. The second was the size. So spacious compared to others. It was the quickest tour I made, due to the awkward male occupancy, so I still have closets to discover when I move in, but it was the also the quickest decision I made.

“I want it,” I said as we stepped back out on the front stoop. And now it’s mine. I paid a deposit that says so. So I have my own place in a neighborhood overflowing with community and Taylors where my mother won’t have to worry for my safety and I can bike to school in a few minutes.

The crazy thing is that this was the first vacancy this building has had in over a year. The landlord had another viewing scheduled just a few hours later with a guy that said he wanted it, so if my timing had been off by just a few hours it never would’ve happened. If I had chosen to go to Lincoln another week or even just another day, I never would’ve found this place. It was definitely a God moment. What's to conclude except He cares about apartments, and neighbors, and landlords. He cares about us, and He knows how to meet our needs.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Yes, it has been three months, to the day, since I have blogged.

While this fact has constantly been nagging at the back of mind (occasionally aided by the physical voices of a few loyal followers), every time I try to think of words to write, my life stares back at me like a blank page. I feel like a monstrous case of writer’s block.

Life since India seems muted. Color is there. Life, purpose, community—all the good things of existence—swirling around in the natural ebb and flow of sun risings and settings. But less poignant. Less vibrant. Dull.

I know there are things to write about here. It wasn’t the large things of India that drew my focus. I loved discovering small details, having the time to slow down long enough to notice the ordinary. Even now I’m probably surrounded by hundreds of miniature wonders; I’ve probably seen them so many times I’ve grown blind their existence. I’m probably walking so fast I don’t take the time to notice. Probably.

Half the things I love about India, the Indians likely aren’t even aware of. Maybe they have my problem in reverse. So somehow, my eyes need to become a stranger in their own home.

It’s also just a season. We all have to learn to walk with God through splendor, through pain… through boredom.

As I was walking with my mom last week we were discussing my dullishness. I was lamenting the lack of having anything specific to process. She told me it wasn’t a bad thing not to have issues to work through. “Yes, but being healthy is boring,” I said. She laughed.

She’s right. I should just be grateful for a healthy reprieve. I’m not sure why I’m writing all this other than the fact that I’m tired of walking through a maze of tedious social conventions and want to vent, that something of some kind needed to be written, and maybe there are others of you that can relate to the fact that life does not always feel like an adventure.

I should it make it my goal for my next post to find something ordinary worth noticing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Culture Shock

For weeks before I came home from India, I braced myself for a tidal wave of culture shock to come crashing over me and leave me in a soggy, mucky mess. The strange thing was, it never hit. Sure, I was a little dazed when I walked into Walmart and stared down aisle after aisle of products that it didn’t seem anybody really needed, but I didn’t melt into tears or get angry and race out of the store. In some ways this absence of obvious grief has been hard.

It took me several weeks to realize that my experience with culture shock was a much more subtle affair. It creeps up on me slowly, softly, in a way that I’m not sure it’s there. I can’t put my finger on the discomfort, I only know that something is not right. Instead of tidal waves I have the gently rolling surf of the seaside. I stand on the shore as the water laps around my feet. It’s easy to withstand a wave, and then another one. But the tide rises, slowly but surely. All of a sudden I look down and wonder where all the water has come from. It’s harder to stand straight as wave after wave rushes in, first around my ankles, then around my knees. It’s easier to lose my balance.

I’ve been babysitting my siblings this week while my parents are off on a much-needed vacation. I love my siblings, and I don’t consider it much of a burden to watch them for the week. I volunteered. But tonight, I’m stumbling for footing as I stare out to the sea. All week I’ve listened to them grumble and whine over food. I’ve watched bits and pieces go to waste here and there, seen them turn up their noses to four offered choices of leftovers for lunch. I’ve gritted my teeth against their little, self-entitled hearts.

It’s not something so big. My siblings are good kids. They have strong values compared to others of their peers. I know they don’t purpose to be selfish and demanding. But their flesh is still strong within them, and they know nothing other than the world of Walmart super stores and refridgerators full of food. But I am haunted by the dear face of an Indian grandmother who lowered herself to ask for two dollars to buy rice to feed her family for the week. Her son hadn’t been able to find work for over a month. I see the faces of my tution students who open their hands to accept whatever snacks I bring, their cries of “thank you teacher” echoing in my ears. I remember a whole village of people that thought it a treat when we brought them eggs or milk or tea.

I left the dinner table in tears tonight. I’m curled up in the dark in my parent’s bedroom right now, finally giving in to tears that may have been kept at bay for a little too long. Abba, teach me what to do. I don’t want to walk in judgment. I don’t want to be angry. But I also don’t know how to navigate my heart between such polarized worlds. I don’t always know how to maintain my joy in the midst of a culture that splays their sense of self-entitlement across their faces, their wardrobes, their pantries, their houses, and their cars. And as I write this I realize it’s not that I can’t live with the glut; I just can’t live without gratitude. Somewhere in the midst of all this stuff, we need to realize that it’s just stuff. If it disappears, the world won’t come crashing down.

So help me, Abba. Show me what to do with the pain. Help me to be vulnerable in a way that invites others to consider your goodness, rather than pushing them away in my frustration.

Monday, March 21, 2011

When friends fall in love

I’m good at weddings. I’ve worked the bridal business for a few years. I’ve been a personal attendant quite a few times (officially and unofficially). I’m an all-around gofer, seamstress, steamer, decorator, snack-maker, boutonnière pinner, dress-fluffer, tabs on the flower-girl keeper, ring-bearer entertainer, lip-gloss carrier, present deliverer, reception cleaner, and bridal sanity maintainer. When the people I love decide to join their lives with someone else, I like to show up and help make it happen. It brings me so much joy to watch a day unfold that has been so-long anticipated and longed for, cried over on couches, and fought out with God.

But I have to confess, that when the cake is all eaten, or the leftovers pawned out on hapless souls leaving the reception, the chairs are folded, and my feet ache from dancing, I crawl into my car and give in to shedding a few a tears.

You see the hardest thing about being single is not being single. It’s watching friends who were single move on to this place that you are not ready to follow. There’s a bit of grieving that happens in the process.

Some of my friends are good at making friendship important after marriage. Some of them kinda disappear. But either way, things shift. And they’re supposed to. It’s a good thing, but it’s hard. I have to re-remind myself of what I know is true, that I’m content, that I don’t really want my life to be different, that the lines God has drawn for me are good. And they are. In the midst of shedding my few tears, in the midst of my heart’s voiced honesty, I remember. I resolve to cling to that remembrance—and to gratitude.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Home Between

For all you readers who have been impatiently chafing at my silence the past three weeks (however few or handfulish you may be) I am sorry. It’s been hard to find words since coming home. It’s difficult even to talk about it so that I find myself reluctant to struggle speak unless somebody takes the time to ask. What does one say? There are even mornings where I wake and wonder, was it all just a dream? Life in the West is so different from life in India it is hard to believe that I’ve lived in both, that they can coexist in the world—and my heart. Sometimes I feel like my brain stares at them as if they were two diverse puzzle pieces that appear to be from different puzzles entirely. You want me to fit these together?! it says.

I’m not even sure if I have anything concrete to say in this post other than the fact that I’m home and fighting to redefine what life should be. I miss India. Just last night I was lying in bed thinking that it was too soft, that I wouldn’t mind my hard flat bed with grass-stained bed sheets. But I’m also finding that there is a familiarity to the choices I face each morning—the choice to be grateful, to not despise humble tasks, to walk with joy, and be honored to serve. India lingers in my heart and has changed what I see as important. Significance must still be redefined because my worth, and even my usefulness, is not determined by the tasks I complete but the position of my heart towards God and the value he speaks into my life.

So right now I’m in a season of lingering between. India is past. Acceptance to graduate school hopefully awaits in the future. I know this time at home is just as significant as the time on either side, despite the fact that some days I wake up and wonder what I’m to do with myself. So I’m writing and quilting, helping friends with weddings, working here and there, and finding a new love of being with my family and my mom. Most of all I’m trying to keep my heart awakened to any little way God is trying to teach me something new, to nudge me with his spirit, show me places to serve. It’s different, but like all things that God brings, I know that it is also good.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flight Itinerary

I’m coming home. It’s going to take four days since I have the craziest, most-pieced together itinerary ever. That’s partly due to the fact that to get from India to Laos and back I chose an airline so cheap my travel agent couldn’t access their database, and partly due to the fact that Asia is predictably unpredictable and one canceled flight turned into two rebooked ones. Therefore…

7 airports
6 flights
5 countries
4 days
3 continents

from now I’ll be landing in Nebraska, hopefully to find an eager crowd of familiar little faces to fight for hugs all at the same time (one of the awesome features of my king-size family).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wet Eyes

I cry so easily now when I get overwhelmed by the goodness of God.

I’ve been sitting on Kruses porch this morning trying to summarize thoughts about India into a two-page letter while listening to “Your Love is A Song” by Switchfoot (lyrics below). And I did it again. Cried that is. What else can I do when I stand in the face of someone so powerful and so worthy, yet someone who cares to take everything he is and tend to my heart with such gentility and patience and such stubbornness to refuse to let me remain as I am?

Ooh, your love is a symphony
All around me, running through me
Ooh, your love is a melody
Underneath me, running to me

With my eyes wide open
I’ve been keeping my hopes unbroken…

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-face with Modern-day Slavery

I just finished reading this book by E. Benjamin Skinner, one journalist’s investigation into the existence of slavery still present in the 21st century. He travels in perhaps twelve countries posing as a merchant, factory owner, or just a westerner searching to satisfy his own contorted lusts, whatever it takes to answer the question: how easily, how quickly, how cheaply can I barter and trade for the life, labor, or sexual commodity of a human being? Answer: much too easily.

I won’t summarize the book. Read it for yourself. My question is what to do after you’ve read it. Skinner points out that the face of modern slavery is much easier to ignore than the Africans in chains on southern plantations. The face of modern slavery is hidden. If you don’t want to see it, you don’t have to. It’s the face of a prostitute who most will judge and assume she’s chosen the life she leads. It’s the face of factory workers and farmers who appear to be working for wages. It’s the face of an internationally adopted child who appears to have been rescued from destitution and brought to live in suburban America, but it’s all just a rouse; it’s really Cinderella pitted against the cruel stepmother, minus a fairy godmother or glass slipper, with an abusive brother thrown in for twisted measure.

Why don’t they run? Why don’t they speak? Because they are beaten into submission. Because they are illiterate and ignorant of laws regarding their freedom. Because their families might die if they squeal. Because they are afraid of deportation where home might mean death. Because they are brought to believe they are worthless.

I read their stories and I struggle with how to respond. Shouldn’t I be in tears? Shouldn’t I be screaming at injustice? And I am. Sometimes. But I can’t bawl my eyes out with every page. It takes too much emotional energy. If I fell apart at every sign of injustice I’d have to bury myself at the bottom of a tissue box and never come out. I’d be useless.

There comes a point when I have to make a choice to say I refuse to be overwhelmed by injustice. It’s everywhere. There are more slaves today than at any other time in history. That’s a lot of evil getting its way. I’m tempted to think, what can I do in the face of so much wrong? But the moment I surrender to that thought, evil has won. So I have to fight, even if I never see visible changes from my efforts; it’s the principle of never conceding the fact that darkness has won… because it hasn’t.

I still don’t know what it looks like from day to day. I know it means I keep my heart uncallused and hopeful. It means I staunch my ignorance, help others open their eyes. It means I pray, I petition governments, I keep sending money to pay for the schooling of a dalit child in India to prevent him from falling into the same trap. Maybe it means one day I open up my home to show broken women how to find life after hell.

In some sense I don’t think it matters what we do, as long as we do something, as long as we keep fighting, as long as hope stays alive. I can’t fix a problem that is millions of lives deep in countries all over the world. If I think that’s my job, I better give up now. But I can find courage to face those who come across my doorstep. If I spend my entire life fighting for the life and dignity and restoration of one human heart than my existence will be worth something. And slavery, in the world of at least one human being, will die.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thoughts of Home

It’s almost time to come home. I wasn’t ready to even think about those words a month ago, but now I’m liking the way that last one sounds in my ears—home.

Laos has been so opposite from India, but looking back I’m just starting to realize what a gift it’s been to my heart in ways I can’t fully understand. I think I’ve found my little moments of usefulness here—helping Eric in the kitchen, doing dishes for Jennie, subbing at the homeschool co-op—but if I could sum up my time here in one succinct thought it would be one great big pause. India was intense, more intense than I think I was aware while I was in the midst of it. I crashed when I got here, and Kruses gave me more than enough time in the world to sleep in and think and read. They’ve let me eat with my hand at the dinner table and wear my saris and talk about all the things I love about India while my heart takes its own slow time to process and adjust and prepare to move on.

Laos has allowed me to catch my breath before jumping into whatever race is next. So many times the fast pace of western society throws us from one thing full speed into another and our minds and hearts are forced to learn to cope and keep up whether they possess the capacity to do so or not. It makes me wonder how many things we miss because we never slow down long enough for our hearts to have time to show us what they have discovered. Laos has given me that time and I sense a deep urge to be grateful. India is pulsing so vast and multifaceted within me, I know it will take years to find all my thoughts, but I’ve gained enough distance now to articulate some of the pieces. Plus I’ve eaten enough western food and seen enough tourists to wear away half the shock-value of landing back in the United States.

So home carries a tone of welcome and warmth, brings stirrings of anticipation. There has never been a moment when I haven’t missed home, but there have been moments when I was convinced the shock of culture would clamor so loudly I feared it could blot out the joy of being with those I love. Those fears are passing, so that I believe I can look for the faces of my family beyond security checkpoint at the airport with anticipation of everything that is warm and good and right. And then, for all of you in Nebraska, I’ll be making my rounds to collect and give the most gigantuous hugs ever.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What we do for adventure in Laos

Epicness #1
2011. Day one. Four friends from three countries: Eric, Janina, Eevee, and I. We boarded a bus and traveled the only paved road in Laos running north into the mountains, disembarked outside of a city three hours later, and walked into town without knowing where we were going to stay. Eventually we ended up in a small little place on the river. Bare necessities—beds, water, and a toilet where flushing equaled ladling out buckets of water from the adjacent barrel. Six dollars per person a night. I love Asia.

Epicness #2
Second day. We rented kayaks and got dropped 10-12 kilometers upstream from town without a guide. Utter freedom and adventure rolled into one.

Two of the things that evoke the biggest sigh of contentment from that deep, deep soulish place inside my heart are mountains and water. I had both. Every so often I had to stop paddling, lean back in the kayak, drift backwards and drink it all in. It’s beautiful, Abba. With the sun on my face and my feet dipping into the water, it was a moment that echoed with gratitude at being alive and for a God who is so much bigger than myself.

Halfway down the river we stopped for lunch. The river was peppered with bars and restaurants, shaded hunts by the riverbank, and picnic tables half-submerged in the water. Each establishment blasted music and boasted swings or slides requiring varying levels of daredevilry. We of course managed to pick the highest trapeze available. By the time we got back on the river in our boats, Eric had nearly perfected his flip off the bar into the water. I contented myself with attempting the art of letting go in such as manner as to avoid landing on the water in a way that invoked pain. Janina mastered hanging on to the zip line so well it was forced to abruptly throw her off at the end of the line. Her body folded in half midair with perfect form before smacking the water back first. Eric and I winched from our perch on the platform.

The rest of the day included swimming along the river route, sunburns (have I mentioned it’s January), showers, naps, dinner Lao style around a low table with cushions, and several card games.

Epicness #3
Third day. We wanted to go hiking. Different guided hikes were advertised in town, but they cost more money than kayaking, which we all unanimously decided was ridiculous. So we ladened ourselves with water and sandwiches and trekked out hoping that a blue dotted line on a tourist map would prove worthy of being explored.

What we found first was a cave. We paid a dollar to have two young Lao girls lead us into the cave with headlamps. The stretch where we had to crawl on our stomachs ensured we were covered in mud by the time we arrived blinking back into the sunlight.

Not bad for a bit of an epic start. But we still wanted to conquer some serious mountain. The trail seemed to go further past the cave. The girls tried to tell us something, make us go back to the road, but Eric’s Lao wasn’t quite fluent enough to understand and his curiosity was insatiable. “I just want to see what’s around the corner from that machine up ahead,” he said. We laughed at that one later when we finally came back.

We followed the trail, which was actually a dried-up streambed. We crawled over rocks at one point that were closer to mini-boulders.

A handful of workers were mining rocks from the riverbed. They smiled as we passed. “Lagoon,” one of them said. “10 kilometers there is lagoon.” We all stopped and looked at each other, eyes gleaming with adventure. Our hiking took on a more determined gait.

The mountains were glorious. No picture can ever suffice to capture them. There were cliffs and trees covered in tropical growth, glens that opened up gleaming with sunlight.

A little piece of hidden Eden. We walked for hours without seeing any falang (foreigners), at least an hour without seeing anyone at all. We felt like four hobbits, trekking their way toward Mordor.

I’d like to say we found the lagoon. We didn’t. Five kilometers into our trek, the stream turned into a small gully that dwindled to something we decided was unwise to follow. Getting lost in the mountains of Laos before dark was blinking somewhere in the danger zone of foolhardy in our adventure meters. So we turned back. But the trek was worth it nonetheless.

Epicness #4
On our way back to town we thumbed a ride with six Lao students in the back of their pickup truck for the last kilometer or so. Once in town they invited us to go out with them back to the river, but we told them we had to catch our bus back to Vientiane. “We’re going to Vientiane tonight,” they said.

So the day ended by swimming in the river and having authentic Lao food with our six newfound friends.

Then the four of us falang piled into the back of their pickup truck for the three-hour drive back out of the mountains. Hitchhiking back to Vientiane. Check.

As the temperature dropped we all pulled towels and scarves out of our bags, layered ourselves down in the truck bed like Tetris cubes, and watched the sunset and then the stars thicken in the sky. We shared stories and constellations and prayed. Not a bad way to start the new year. Rather epic in our opinion.