In five days I visit a landscape different from my own. Belinda’s folk hail from North Dakota and the landscape is something of her own. For this southern California boy though, walking into a winter place that locals call cold is likely an understatement. When I visited the Dakota landscape in the past I found much of it in line with the stories of Belinda’s folk. Today though, there is something different about the south-central landscape along the Missouri River. From a distance, it speaks of change.
A landscape of change interests me.
In this season, when US Christianity struggles to speak and act in favor of Creational justice, there are people in a rural landscape who have placed it front and center and have garnered attention for doing so. Some folk, both local and global, believe they have achieved justice if the current refusal to issue DAPL a permit to cross the Missouri remains in effect come February. At the surface, my interest lies with the people who believe that as untrue. For they seem to be the folk who understand care of people without care of land and water and wind may well be a form of mercy, but not justice. Below the surface, my curiosity lies in the water, land, and wind itself. There is little action of substance in my home landscape that comes about through people alone. Any inkling of justice seems to arise only when humans ally their voice with the voice of the landscape.
I wonder, what justice does the water and the land and the wind of this landscape of Belinda’s folk have to speak? A question, I think, worth a journey. Why does this landscape call for justice in this this season, in the life of my children? A question I believe that is worth a pilgrimage. Yet maybe most important, what if my landscape is calling for the same, but because it is mine, because I see the same ridges each day, because the ridges’ changing shadows amuse and mystify me, I am not able to hear her cry for justice? What if a visit to a landscape not my own has a word that fractures the barrier between my ears and my landscape’s voice? Can one not risk journey?