When I am out west I feel like I am home again. It is both a joyous and sad experience, because the deep love I have for the land is tempered by the understanding that I'll have to leave it.
Standing beneath the big sky with nothing but space around me, I am filled with such yearning it makes my soul ache.
It is so breathtakingly beautiful I spent half the trip blinking back tears, which finally spilled over during the Cody Stampede opening prayer. We were there during "Tough Enough To Wear Pink" night, when all the proceeds go to a family fighting cancer. The sun was setting, the rodeo was about to start, and the announcer, Randy Schmutz, asked us all to bow our heads. He led us in prayer for the safety of the cowboys, for the men and women in our armed services, asked for strength for those battling cancer, and we thanked the Lord for our great land. It was lovely to be part of the community at that moment.
I know that visiting a place is not the same as living there. I'm sure the good folks out west have the same concerns that I do in New Jersey. I imagine they worry about their children and their friends, wonder where our country is headed, try and figure out how to keep their jobs and pay their bills.
So I know my life wouldn't be all that different if I was living in Montana.
Except for the land.
The land that unfurled before me, uncluttered and free, rolling and rising to meet the jagged, jutting peaks, ignorant of my insignificant presence, its call a constant thrum, like the rumble of distant water.