I wanted to write a little bit about the concept of shelter; our inherent need for protection and what finding personal space has meant to me as the leader of this journey. The nature of time has changed dramatically as each day contains a new destination and we rarely stay in one place for more than a night. I am always in movement, living primarily in the present and ever conscious of each day’s agenda and our need for food and shelter. Road trips are funny…always an opportunity for adventure, seeking new trails, learning about culture and communities and the exploration of self. I find that I am constantly alert, my sences are keenly aware of the vast beauty of this country and I feel protective of my crew. As much as I planned ahead, making reservations at motels and campgrounds, I was not prepared for how critical the need for shelter becomes.
We all need a sense of personal space- the dimensions of that space become somewhat meaningless, yet having a space to rest and occupy matters most. We have spent hours setting up campsites, shuffling our belongings back and forth, erecting tents,creating kitchens in the back of the van and carving out small personal spaces every night to close our eyes and feel safe. So often I know that our shelters are tenous at best; we have recently experineced all that South Dakota summers have to offer with 40 mph winds, rain, and thunder, yet in the moment we determine we will be safe.
It is in these moments of living so clearly, that I see the resiliency of every woman we have met in the shelters. They have left everything behind and often just with their children, have fled to the safety of a community that understands what they are going through. I have learned that it is almost a herculean task to leave an abusing partner in large part because most women do not have the resources, confidence or support from their own families and communities to leave. At our workshop in Casper, Wyoming, some women had just arrived to a safe house where maybe they have slept for the first time in years. Their eyes showed that same clarity, that same need for personal safetey that I recognize from my own experinces on the road. When we are safe, we are given space to dream, reflect on our pasts and create our futures. It is a luxury and a need so strong that when we have it, we often forget how critical it is to our survival and overlook that there are so many who go without.
I have been seeking shelter along the road. Two nights ago, I sat up high in a little bed space atop our van and looked out onto the hills of the Badlands. Lightening spread across the sky and I was surrounded by a community of trailers, tents, kids hulahooping, dogs, and groups of families on vacation. Ninety- one of us shared this space,this campground- all coming together for one night of shelter and rest.