I flew through the clouds to the Land of Enchantment to see my friend Leslie.
It was a birthday present from Mike to me to spend a few days in the summer at Leslie’s family cabin in Red River, New Mexico. The Outpost is a log cabin built by family hands over time and shared by five siblings.
She met me right as I came through security, happy tears in her eyes. We had been girlfriends for thirty years; college roommates, wearing taffeta in each other’s weddings and later Mamas to four kids each. One visit I made to see her in Texas, we took this photo of all of our children on her front porch.
What a beautiful mess! Just look at all those little hands and feet, now many sizes bigger and leaving footprints in the world. Three of them are married now. We walked to her neighborhood pool to let the kids to cool off in the Texas heat. Ten of us was just too many to go anywhere by car, but we didn’t care.
We were mamas together and we were happy and inspired by our adventure into being way outnumbered.
I had never been to New Mexico and while I love words and the intrigues of spelling, the first thing I did was spell Albuquerque wrong. Again and again. My stars, how many Q’s!? “My stars” is a phrase I heard in my childhood and Leslie kept saying all weekend. Writing it just now, I think of her and smile.
Here we are by the Rio Grande.
Look at those clouds. Have you ever seen the clouds in New Mexico? They are these great fluffs of popcorn like God is cooking pans and pans of Jiffy Pop behind the mountains while the kernels are bursting from the foil over a hot stovetop and filling the sky.
Leslie says these brilliant white puffs are baby thunderheads at birth. They will bring thunderstorms and lightning to Red River. Sure enough, on the road past Taos, Santa Fe and into Valley of the Pines we meet lighting bolts, fat raindrops and hail. The wide open sage landscape is hugged by the Sangre de Cristo mountains and follows the flow of the Rio Grande River all the way to the Texas Gulf. Texas is another place we share in our history.
Where can dear friends begin who haven’t been face-to-face for a few years? Talk, of course. Catch up while cooking, hiking, sipping margaritas, sharing photos, asking a million questions, reading, writing and dreaming.
We went everywhere our dreams took us rambling up the mountainside in our red jeep adventures; no blinkers, no inspection, just rugged rebellion.
I learned a few new things which always makes me feel young again. Red River means “land of red willows”. Leslie met her husband Craig on this mountain at the Playhouse, a roller rink, pinball, bowling alley, ancient foosball table hangout with ski lift chairs hanging from the ceiling. The stuff of high school circa 1970‘s. I did not know that part of her story.
Hummingbirds danced in our white space. We shared quiet time watching hummingbirds sip at the sugar feeders. Now I can recognize the distinct whirring sound of their beating wings as they hover and dive outside the picture windows.
And the smell! Pinon is the pine that burns in chimineas. It wafts on the wind that moves the popcorn clouds. I have always thought it smells faintly familiar of freedom and toasted cumin.
We didn't skirt around our happiness or those tender spots of pain or even our unanswered questions that let our hearts be true. We tracked all inside with the dirt on our shoes from the mountainside and let Jesus take it from there.
We were candid and vulnerable in the cabin space between our hearts. We faced a few fears and sacred wounds. I felt the borders of my heart grow just a little wider.
Life is busy. Our souls need space. Let summertime give you more room for friendship, adventure, reading good books, listening, staring out the window at God's handiwork and just doing nothings. I hope you find a cabin in the woods, a beach house or even your own front porch this summer where your heart borders can expand.
Here's to bigger hearts all around!