Life Under the Big Sky

VISIONS participants have been living on the Ranch, spending time in the wilderness and learning to appreciate stillness.

The golden drops of the sun pours itself between two snow-capped glaciers, bringing respite to the gentle, rolling hills as far as the eye can offer.

I have returned to the most original form of man: the form of nature. We awake to follow the pathway of the sun, and we return to fetal rest at the dying heartbeat of the day. The will of the world aligns with the will of us, time itself no longer a passing – yet a mere concept. Clocks, alarms, and schedules have been put on halt for twenty-one days by a wall that invariably shall break. In its absence, we obtain joy. Not the joy of mindless scrolling or social tensions yet the joy of simple service and childhood play.

To our will we move and to our will we serve. The energy of ours arrives from the sacred Blackfeet land – the Glacial Mountains. The rich soil that had been stepped a hundred thousand times and will a hundred thousand times again. The century-old snow that pleases the heart and creates an euphoria. The jagged black peaks that spoil into forested rolling hills and eventually tide out to thousands of acres of grazing parks. The rounded lakes that create the natural mirror of explosive life. The sacred mountains that foster an unfamiliar civilization, trampled through years of suffering, and the utmost exemplar of resilience.

Through serving we grow ourselves ever closer to this diminishing civilization. We try our best to serve the youth by providing the necessities of breakfast and lunch. We try to serve the community by reinstituting parks into convenience and shape. We try to serve our neighbors by repainting their houses. The service is not forced upon us – it comes in the form of laughter, jokes, and true fun. Neither do we conduct said service only for the interests of our own benefits – we conduct so out of true empathy.

By the dying embers of the sky arise the living fire of the circle. A moment of silence is gifted to all – the silence to reflect on the day. The gift to enjoy the deep energies along the Glacial range. With Circle the natural knots of the day are untied, and we respite with inner peace. With Circle, we converse and grow closer. In Circle, we become united.

Our journey has only just begun, and I have enjoyed every moment of it so far. Through time, we learn more about the Blackfeet and Montana. Through time, we learn more about empathy. Through time, we learn about the world around us.

Owen Clarke is a writer for VISIONS. A career outdoor journalist, his work appears in 30+ international magazines, including Iron & Air, Climbing, Outside, Rock and Ice, SKI, Trail Runner and The Outdoor Journal. He is also the executive editor of Skydiving Source and Indoor Skydiving Source.

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