Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Life after Crawford

On the way to Crawford, Jenny and I talked to so many people and heard so many stories that we felt the journey was maybe more important than the destination. Then we got to Crawford and found this nexus of spontaneous human support and we experienced a profound appreciation for our country's men and women. We expected the return trip to be doubly full of stories both of the outbound trip and what we have learned from it, and of Crawford and what we learned there.

Yet as we fall back into the routine of the road, we have surprised ourselves by how silent we both have become.
Going out you couldn't shut me up. Now I can not unglue my tongue. We still chat with folks at the stops, but where it was easy before to come to the subject of Crawford, now it is hard. I worried about my own commitment to the idea that put me on the road in the first place - to get beyond the divisive rhetoric of the parties and of the media to the heart of the humans who share this country with me.

Maybe the difference is simply that going out I was full of questions, and that openness made it easy to talk to others and hear their ideas about what was going on. And in Crawford, those of us who made the journey could shake our heads in wonder at our own actions. We could try to figure out together what drew us and held us there together in the heat and humidity. Now, I feel the questions are behind me and I should have some answers. Why did I go? What good did it do? What is going on in Crawford?

It is harder to head home and not know. If I talk to people, I could tell them all the things I figured out along the way about the country and the people. But then it becomes a lecture and the beauty of genuine contact I experienced on the trip outbound will surely be lost. But when I hold my tongue and nothing is gained.

I am inching back to it. At a souvenir store beside the highway, they had a jar out with a hand-written invitation to donate to veterans of the Iraq war. I threw in a dollar and they told me a whole group of soldiers heading out to Iraq had come in the day before. I heaved a sad sigh and they said their minister was going next week. We stood in a stunned silence as the reality of their risk sat there between us. There was nothing to say. That I had been to Crawford was not the point. I paid for my cowboy hat, put it on and headed out.

I write this now in yet another Motel 6 and think about all the people who will not sleep well tonight because someone they love is at risk in Iraq for no good reason.

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