Month: May 2017


i’m back here in the place where i began

with a new flame in my heart

and still the longing to hold your hand.

i feel your absence

but i now also feel His presence

holding me

keeping me

warding off my demons.

i am not alone in this dark.

and i realize i never truly was–

what a relief.

but still i pray to one day feel your arm around me

and joy, full and complete.

tell me

do something

just tell me


for my hands and my heart

to do

but sit here.

my mind is active

in prayer–

remember, remember

talking to God

is the most powerful


yet still

i itch

to engage in something,

no matter how small,

that i can see–

an action

to look at

and say,


we are not


after all.’



Feet pushing me out in front, leading the three behind me, legs finding my forest rhythm through the rhododendron grove. I suck in the cool, moist air, smell the rich dirt, feel the gray rock towering above me, up and out, overshadowing and protecting. A rushing creek, one-two-hop across, a waterfall, a smooth wooden ladder with worn dips in the rungs from years of climber hands and feet. Fingers trailing along cold, pleasantly rough sandstone, boots tramping up and over and beside root networks and bouncing from rock to rock by a bright blue lake glistening in the sun. The newly adorned trees whisper with their happy green leaves, welcoming. I name the walls and routes as we go by, stories flooding inside, filling with bright histories and remembered laughter. I announce when we go by, a proud tour guide come home again. D.C. Memorial Boulder (a gray hunk of cubed stone), Gun Wall (concentrated string of 5.10s), Chewy (the fun 5.10 with the bouldery start), Under the Milky Way (5.11, popular, slopey, and difficult), Satisfaction Guaranteed (sought-after 5.11a with the pinkie blood spot under the roof and the rhododendron chair beneath). The lake laps fully, contented, on the shore, previously protruding triangle boulders now humbly submerged, silver points poking out quietly, subdued by the happily returned waters, sparkling and rejoicing in the sun. I feel my spirits lift higher and higher as my feet find themselves closer and closer to the center of things, to the geographical pivot of my world, emerging from the smooth-barked saplings and wide-leaved rhododendron bush to a small, tan beach of hard-packed earth, perfect hammock trees, stretching tan-orange rock with iron bands and Hippie Dreams routes basking luxuriously in the sun–

And I am home.

I strip off my outer clothes before I can think, hot from the excited hike, and wade into the cool blue-green water, plunging beneath, spinning around like a silly mermaid, feeling the softness against my skin. What freedom there is here! What aliveness. My body waking up to vibrancy of things. My friends and I stretch out in the sun and let our skin soak in the rays, warmth radiating. Monarch butterflies float through this stretch of solitude, our corner of the world, somewhere to hold us and hide us and heal us.

I read and think and climb and laugh. Yet still the core quiet deep blue sadness remains like a permanent dusk inside. It is so weird to realize that happiness and sadness are not mutually exclusive–in fact, right now, it is impossible to be happy without the sad being there too. Here, in the place I love best, I can be happy-sad… and that itself is a gift. I am glad to be here. I am glad to be me. Here, I can rest. The missing and hurt doesn’t stop, but here I can live. It is odd, too, realizing that for the first time, being here doesn’t fix everything, fix me, even though it  does make living a million times easier. It makes me realize that yes, home is a place, but even more so, home is a person. And that’s okay. I am just so grateful I get to be in my place-home, if not with my person-home–everywhere is home when I’m with him, and I think for me, that is how it should be.

The afternoon slides by with a plethora of silliness–goldfish on a sleeping friend’s eyes and getting lost on simple paths and dizzy upside-down lake shenanigans sixty feet up in the air, hands reaching to the sky and the ground all at once, and mountains of photos, clicking away swinging on slings and hoping they hold, and traversing over lichen far from my anchors with my heartbeat pumping, and doing things that scare me just a little. What a thing it is to feel confident and comfortable in a wild place like this, accepted and wanted by it, belonging, even as my heart aches as it does. I am thankful to have a haven that doesn’t move or radically change, at least in any way that matters to me. It will always welcome me back, no matter what state of Ashley I’m in. I don’t have to worry about how it ‘sees’ me or will ‘handle’ me–there is only understanding and peace here. It doesn’t know how to be anything else. It doesn’t know how well it is a haven to so many people who feel like they have none.

We hike out with the promise of hot dogs and a campfire. The low sun is beautiful and golden, lighting up the meadow and rocky path with the majestic light of adventure, bathing everyone equally and liberally, regardless of ability or identity–just the effort put forth to exist here earning it. I am exhausted, inside and out. Sad-happy–what a strange thing. But today was one of the first in a while that felt worth living at the end. I am glad that today I was me, here, and that, by God’s grace, it was mine to live.

a whippoorwill tuesday

Hammock swinging in a stiff spring breeze, Tarzan shouts and cannonball splashes echoing across blue-green expanse… so much life, so much color, so much being. But my will to play ran away a month ago. The temptation to be frustrated with how I’m me nips viciously at my insides, whispering shame–why can’t you be like them? why are you so weak? But I push it away and listen to the sound of the trees talking.

It is entirely unfair for one human to compare herself to another.

Utterly, encompassingly out of context and body. One can only contrast, carefully, one’s present self with one’s past. Circumstance is key. I speak it to my heart, firmly and clearly. you are here. you are freely breathing big lungfuls of sweet, wild air. you are not in your dorm, or your bedroom. you are miles from your city. you are outside. you are with best kinds of friends. you are in a place of beauty and healing, a place that has always meant magic and home to you.

this place does not demand that you be happy.

these people don’t expect sky-high energy levels and a smile plastered on your face.

this God does not command that you be whole.

and neither, therefore, should you.


an illusive firefly thing

only holding still

a moment

before fluttering off

on frenetic wings


by all

yet by some


for its power

to make forget

and let go

i am uneasy

in its presence

yet longing

when it leaves

They Were Us

The sun has disappeared,

Swallowed by the mountains’

Shadow blue,

Clouds backlit,

Suspended in pale orange.

The car hums behind constant noise,

Road tunes blaring,

Singing in the front seat.

Next to me

She folds onto a pillow

And leans into him.

His arm rests on her back

His fingers running down her arm,

Caressing, whispering over her hair.

She naps, giggles spent,

And all his attention is on

Her motionlessness.

The moon shines bright

In a deep sky.

The soft armful of glassy-eyed gorilla

Doesn’t fill the ache

In my center.

Everything inside

Is like a sea

Of wet

And broken



20 things about this last year, in semi-chronological order, past to present, as I am now, officially, 20.

  1. I learned to find my feet after the betrayal of a close friend.
  2. I learned to embrace who I am deep inside.
  3. I discovered that I loved the person I found.
  4. I learned I always have a choice in life, even when it seems like I don’t. I am never trapped. The question is–what’s the right one.
  5. I learned how to be independent, to navigate the world on my own, and found it exciting and empowering.
  6. I discovered I will always make friends, wherever I go, even when I think I will find no one.
  7. I found that there is beauty in everything–I just have to watch and listen and smell and touch and taste and feel and think and all the goodness is right there at my fingertips if I just pay attention.
  8. I discovered how much I need loving criticism. I’m not always right, even when I’m dead sure I am. Listening hurts, but it can end up being a good hurt down the road.
  9. I learned that good things will come again.
  10. I found friends that became family, or maybe they found me.
  11. I found I am accepted for who I am by the right people, those that count.
  12. I found out I can be happier than I ever dreamed.
  13. I learned that God is faithful to me.
  14. I realized how much I love to laugh, and that laughing that much is entirely okay.
  15. I found my confidence.
  16. I lost my crushing desire to have to be the best and impress the world instead of just being enough for myself.
  17. I discovered what it’s like to have someone be there for you when you’re hurting, to always be there when you need them, and to be that for someone else myself. I discovered that my truest friends won’t push me away or look down on me when I’m at my lowest, but instead take me in.
  18. I experienced what it’s like to be truly loved–all of me, somehow, for just being me.
  19. I fell in love.
  20. I’ve found my darkest, neediest place yet. And still, I live and breathe and hope and believe–and love. And that is one of the most profound discoveries yet.

Year 19, you are the new favorite. Year 20, you have a lot to live up to. I made a whopper wish on my birthday candle. Let’s see if it comes true.

© 2021 Ashley Wilda

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑