“Three’s a crowd, two’s company, one’s a little lonely! ”
~ Frances Cherp, age 18
Day 3 of solo trip on Utah’s Green River

I awoke early yesterday morning to see my daughter off on her six day sojourn in the Moab desert. Two of those days- beginning today- will be spent alone on a “solo” with nothing but a copy of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, a journal, some food supplies, water, a tent, and a light source. I think fires are out as winds down there are at 50 mile an hour gusts right now.

I actually awoke several hours ahead of her early departure and decided to write her a letter to sneak in her pack. Her fellow students will receive a letter they wrote to their “future self” when they were in eighth grade. (She was not at the school then.) I have a son who wrote and received that letter to himself three years later, despite having moved out of town. What a notion, and testament to the value of writing so ‘we know what we think.’

I am so passionate about this opportunity for these young people; so hopeful, and also so empathetic.
I have been there, literally and proverbially. I have worried about the scorpions and the long dark nights. But, I have also worked through those fears, and come out on the other side as we say, with the understanding that the moon and the stars shine brightest on the darkest of nights.

We talked last night about faith and prayer and breathing, and the notion of time when it can only be measured by the sun. Her teacher coined her ‘the most likely to talk to herself out loud.’ It’s interesting this is something her small group discussed.
Some do, some don’t it’s all is normal. (Reminds me a bit of seventh grade science class:)

My daughter has an anaphylactic bee allergy. She will have benadryl, an epinephrine shot, and an emergency whistle on hand.
Surprisingly this got no airtime.
Instead she spoke of her fear of scorpions, the freezing temps, and the dark of night. My worries focused on a different kind of darkness that can enter our thoughts when we are in the wilderness, and feel all alone.

I spoke about the practices that have sustained me. About listening and observing and trusting, and how when I am afraid, I lean into my faith, reminding myself I am not alone.

No doubt her 48 hours of peace will be fraught with the same stories and realizations, excitements and fears that any journey into the wilderness provides. Never easy; always fruitful. I rest assured knowing she has what she needs, and as Julian of Norwich said,

“All shall be well.”


“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”
– Edward Abbey, ‘Desert Solitaire’

Do you believe this? Have you spent some time in the wilderness, that is, in any foreign territory where you’ve had to confront fear and navigate on blind faith.

If not, might you be willing to try?
It’s enlightening, and good for the soul!

“happy trails, to you,
until we meet again…”