top of page

Subscribe to Epiloguer • Don’t miss out!

Thanks for subscribing!

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

As a hiker in the Pacific Northwest, preparing a day pack was a series of what if questions. What is if I get hungry? What if I get thirsty? What if I get lost or injured? What if I get cold or it gets dark? What if I have to spend an extra night?

And so the careful preparations began for placing supplies in my fluorescent orange day pack…not so much out of fear but out of experience. You learn to prepare for these eventualities because you have encountered them.

Now in this desert landscape, the fears are different and new questions arise. A host of new venomous creatures lurk in these desert places where javalina and coyote leave tracks on the trail, and wild cats keep company with wild turkeys.

But there is another kind of encounter happening in this desert as well. Amidst the cactus, the Palo Verde and the desert dwellers, underneath sweltering skies, encounters of the human kind are happening.

Transformative encounters.

Divine encounters.

A local pastor here goes to the desert to refill water stations for migrants, and encounters a young boy of five crossing the road in front of him. With only the clothes on his back and a small pack, this child has already completed a 3,000 mile journey with his family to escape the violence in his homeland.

At the border, his family now faces the daily violence of rape, murder, and kidnapping. So great is their fear for their son, so deep is their love, that they send him to the other side of the wall into the desert with a prayer and a phone number of a relative in the U.S. and they pray he will encounter someone in the desert who will rescue him.

He has a name. His name is Esteban.

And a man and his wife hike down a well known trail in my favorite nearby canyon. Hearing agonizing cries from the canyon below the trail, they encounter a migrant who has fallen into a creek and is near death from hypothermia. He is nearly incoherent when they find him.

They take off their warm clothing, and she cradles his head while her husband hikes down to get help for him. She prays her body warmth will keep him alive and that her words spoken in a foreign tongue bring some small measure of comfort.

He has a name. It is Javier.

Estevan. Javier. They are the named. But they are only two in a sea of the unnamed lost, the frightened, and the traumatized fellow citizens of our world who are wandering the desert seeking hope and comfort. They are seeking our humanity, and they are challenging our faith.

Yes, the preparations for hiking in the desert are different here. But so are the questions. What might I bring for someone who is hungry? How much water could I carry for someone who is thirsty? What kind of basic medical supplies might be needed for someone who is injured?

I pray for desert encounters now, and I prepare for them because I know Jesus will be there. I know that will I encounter Him in the thirsty, the hungry, the lost, and the hurting. I know that in the face of the stranger lying at the bottom of a canyon wall, the child wandering in the desert, the hope starved walking these desert paths, an encounter with the Divine is waiting.

And I don’t want to miss it.

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Most like an arch, this marriage, two weaknesses that lean into a strength. John Ciardi

He was a single 25 year old Metro bus driver looking to start making music on the side. I was an unmarried mother of four month old twins looking to start making music again on the side. And for four months we did. Until I did what I am prone to do- wander off to Colorado with the kids and my partner in tow.

He became an unmarried 34 year old Metro bus driver with a history of troubled relationships. I became a 34 year old unmarried single mother of twins, raising them alone since age four, and working in bands in Colorado…with a history of failed relationships.

Following our brief musical experience, our only contact was through about seven random phone calls over eight years where we caught up on life and both wondered why it was so hard to find a soul mate.

On one of those phone calls, however, he announced he had a layover in Denver and wondered if he could stop by on his way to a golf tournament in Florida.

Why not? It will just be a one time meeting and then I’ll get back to my life.

I could not remember what he looked like as I waited for passengers to disembark. He did not know my last name and could not figure out a way to contact me when his plane was late.

But a month later he flew back to Denver and proposed in Taco Bell. Six months later we were married in his parents’ living room. And six months after that I quit my teaching job, moved back to the Northwest, and we started our lives together.

But we never dated.

We jumped into life together not actually knowing each other. We raised children together. We paid bills and earned a decent living together. When Tim finally retired in 2006, my mom had a stroke, and he became a caregiver, companion, and friend for her next nine years. He took care of grandchildren while I worked, a joy we shared after I retired and my mom passed.

But we never dated.

Until now. In our seventh decade.

In the space created by a move to the desert and a downsized life, we are finally getting around to getting acquainted. We go to movies and sit across restaurant tables and have long, deep conversations. We walk together under starry skies reminiscing and sharing our deepest woundedness and our quiet joys. And we literally fill in gaping holes in our knowledge of each other’s history because we never got to know each other.

Now we embrace dating spontaneously with the reckless abandon of youth. But unlike those who do so in youth, we date with an acute awareness of the numbering of our days, which makes every moment more precious than the one before.

In this season, this “third act,” we are dating like we just met.

Because in almost every way

we just did.

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Pastor Dan, one of our favorite pastors, did a sermon once on a Christian fad running rampant in the American culture in the 80’s. This was expressed in Christian knickknacks and jewelry with WWJD printed on them…What would Jesus do?

Pastor Dan suggested that perhaps the slogan should be WDJD- What DID Jesus do, and that perhaps we could devote ourselves to the study of what He actually did by immersing ourselves in the “most owned, least read book in the world,” even by Christians.

I thought about that this morning on my early dawn walk in the desert. Over the years, I had been reading different translations of the Bible, not wanting it to be the least read book on my own shelf. Turning over the stories that had become like my own, it occurred to me not only what Jesus DID, but HOW He did it.

He walked.

He walked alone and with his friends. He observed nature around him and drew parallels to what it meant to be his followers using the world around him as inspiration. He walked to solitary places to be alone and reorient his daily life and align his priorities.

I can already hear the objections…. I know…it’s different now,

Our times are so much more complex, our modes of transport so varied, and to imitate the physical daily life of Jesus is reserved, we think, for the hermit and mystic in our modern times.

But what if it isn’t?

I know for myself, during the pandemic, in order to nurture what little sanity that was available, I walked more miles in those two years than in the previous ten. The created world grounded me, and the solitude and quiet meditation while walking were essential to my mental and spiritual health.

Walking on a beach at Deception Pass, I found comfort in the certainty of the rhythmic sound of waves meeting sand. Walking a trail alone in the wilderness, I found my spirit becoming attuned to the quiet whispers of a loving God. Even walking the neighborhood, I found a renewed sense of community in the greetings of the other walkers whose faces I had never encountered in the thirty previous years of life in the fast lane.

Walking made the world smaller and larger at the same time.

Maybe now is time for more silence and more walking. Maybe now is time to make room for the praises and prayers that issue forth from the rocks and plants, the bubbling streams and the songs of birds.

And maybe now is time to create some space for a three mph life.

Perhaps then we would value the earth in all its beauty and seek to protect it. Perhaps then we could better hear the heartbeat of the world and respond with lavish grace. And perhaps then we could hear the whisper that promises whether we turn to the left or the right, we will hear a voice behind us saying,

THIS is The Way.

Walk in it.

Subscribe to the blog• Don’t miss out!

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page