We were backpacking in September, so I should have expected it. Everything was dead or dying. Branches wilted and drooped. It was fall.
“Can you imagine what this place looked like a month or two ago?” I asked, taking uphill steps in my hiking boots with a pack on my back weighing fifteen percent of my weight.
“Yeah, full of wildflowers,” Charles said. I pictured what the scene must have been in mid-summer — the whole field vibrant with wildflower glory. But now, in September, only withering and wilting sorrow. Because of the fall, everything was dying.
We hiked for three and a half hours — plenty of time for my mind to do its destructive kind of wandering. I wondered, as I do now and then, if I was really being useful to God on this earth. I remembered when I asked a dumb question at work (over a decade ago!) and the other two engineers looked at each other, silent and smirking and obviously thinking, “She doesn’t even know that?” I dwelt on that friendship I had lost, and the other one. I replayed scenes at home with the children, remembering the graceless, yelling voice I had used with them. I thought of all the lacks and failures I exhibited as a wife and mother. I thought of the cruelty I had shown to a friend.
Then, in the midst of remembering sin and its effects, I remembered where I was: the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Sangre de Cristo — the Blood of Christ. God in His love had spoken to me. Child, you are walking in the blood of Christ.
I was walking in the blood of Christ, the blood that still flows over wounds to heal them, over sins to cleanse them.
When I remembered where I was, I saw that everything was red, or reddening. Creation bleeds before it dies, like Christ the Creator who also bled and died.
The wilderness itself, the mountains on which I trod, the leaves and branches and rocks, reminded me: I am forgiven. Jesus died for me. I am cleansed. I am walking in the blood of Christ — estoy caminando en el Sangre de Cristo.
I saw the shocking beauty around me — September beauty. The dying things were beautiful, too, there in the blood of Christ.
I spent no more time during that three-day backpack dwelling on sins, on failures, on pains inflicted and received. I saw the red everywhere, and I walked in redeemed joy.
And on top of that, the fishing was great.