I dreamt about the church for weeks. Too many nights, I woke with a start with visions of it whirling through my head. A worn-out church that sits atop a rise overlooking Santa Cielo, a small coastal village near the southern tip of Baja California, isolated and far removed from the modern world.
From the church’s door, I had been told, you can look out over the homes of the villagers below and see the endless waves of the Pacific Ocean stretching out rhythmically towards the horizon. In my dreams, I looked up at the church from the edge of the village. These dreams occurred by day and by night. During the day while at work looking out the window of my sixth floor office, I no longer saw the office building across the street. Instead, the church’s cross, a wobbly construction of two pieces of wood lashed together with a thin piece of twine and reaching to the heavens, surrounded by a brilliant blue sky with a few wispy clouds lolling about, loomed in front of me. At night, pictures of the village and its church filled my sleep and I could see the dust kicked up by my shoes as I walked through the village towards the decrepit building. My dreams always ended before I began the hike up the hill, never revealing the truths that might await me in Santo Cielo’s church.
After weeks of these dreams, I went in search of this church to find something. Most people may go to such a church on a religious pilgrimage. To find God or to speak to a god they know already exists. That was not why I went. I didn’t believe in God and had no reason to find him. Or her. Or it. No, instead this church was my destination because it stands on a hill. From its windows, I would be able to see the ocean and be swallowed by the vastness of the world that the ocean represented. My pilgrimage was not to find God, but to find peace.
In the church pews I would find solitude. I believed that I would be alone with nothing but my thoughts, which oddly enough were what I needed so desperately to escape. No hustle and bustle. No horns blaring. No phones ringing – at the office, at home, even in the pocket where I kept my cell. No mindless prattle from a TV in every room. No noise, but the wind that sweeps by the church, the not-so-distant roar of the surf crashing on the beach, and the occasional laugh of a child playing in the cluster of homes at the bottom of the hill. The silence offered there would help me clear my mind and find answers to the questions that haunted me and caused my stomach to churn.
If given the opportunity, I could catalog my thoughts. Put them in a mental ledger. These go on the left side. Those go on the right. Add them all up and this is where the path lies. Finally, I would be able to shut some of the doors to the areas of my brain that whirred and spun. At least that was my hope.
To do it right, I had to leave my family behind. The moment I boarded the plane and turned my back, I missed them. As Jason waved to me and blew me a kiss, a small hole was ripped out of me. Of course, Spence, my older son, all of thirteen, had begged and pleaded to be allowed to stay home rather than accompany us to the airport. Considering what I was about to do, who was I to insist that he come along?
And Holly? When the call was made to board the airplane, she allowed me to kiss her good-bye. The peck that had, for years, defined the extent of the affection that passed between us. When I looked back one last time, she stood there casually, with Jason on her hip and an expression of nonchalance towards my departure.
It was because of my family that I made the trip. Raising a family and everything that goes with it was all-consuming and I needed the time. A few days in a small town in Mexico. An afternoon sitting in a pew of a small church on a desolate hillside in Mexico. A few days? An afternoon? Who knows? Maybe more. I hoped I would return with the answers I needed. But I was uncertain. It was entirely possible the solution would elude me and my return would never happen. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t return until I figured things out. I deserved that outcome. As did my family.
After an uneventful flight, the plane landed and I spent three hours in the back of a beat-up old bus traveling a barely paved road. A trip to another place and another time. Across the aisle from me sat a young woman. She held in her arms a small child. For much of the trip, he slept with his head resting on her shoulder.
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And so begins Weed Therapy. Available now for your Kindle. In paperback by the end of the week. Buy early, buy often. Write a review, spread the word.