We awoke on day five of the Road Trip to Kansas somewhat disoriented, and had to get our bearings. Think of the many maps you’ve seen that advise “You Are Here” so you can orient yourself to your surroundings. The Black Hills Blizzard of 2013 was upon us—roughly two feet of snow had fallen overnight—and no matter how we tried to rationalize situation, our reality was simply “We Are Here!” The emergency alerts kept flashing on our cell phones. All roads were closed until further notice. By late afternoon the power went out, and we prepared to be here for a while. Fortunately, we had plenty of snacks, water, a good flashlight, and some other necessities in the car. We settled in, watched a movie on my laptop, and went to sleep.
Over the course of the next 36 hours we engaged in some interesting conversations, helped my new trucker friend, Larry, by charging his cell phone in our car, and, when the people at the front desk were scampering around assisting their guests in so many ways, helped an elderly woman change her portable oxygen tank. We were all adapting and reasonably comfortable.
Late on the afternoon of day six the power came back on. As things seemed to be getting back to normal, we and many others kept a watchful eye on road reports while planning how to resume travelling. Everyone had somewhere to go; some had flights to catch in Rapid City or Sioux Falls. No matter how we all wanted to get back to normal, South Dakota emergency services kept sending alerts to stay off the roads to our cell phones.
By day seven most of us had resigned ourselves to the fact that we had no control over our situation. Lisa likened it to looking at the map for re-orientation and reading, “You Are Still Here!” We kept thinking we would move on when it was simply not possible. However, it was a beautiful day so we decided to return to Crazy Horse to get a better look at the monument being slowly revealed from the granite mountain by tedious but loving blasts, chiseling, and polishing.
I had recently read two books on the American-Indian conflict written from the perspective of the Native American: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne, and The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III. My perspective on American history as taught in public schools when I was young had begun to change.
The cultural and spiritual significance of Crazy Horse really sank in as we toured the monument. We had first “seen” it in the fog on day four, were stranded by the blizzard on days five and six, and then the skies cleared, the sun was shining, and we could experience Crazy Horse anew based on my recent readings and our experiences over the past four days. We could see more clearly now. I believe that God had put us in this place, during this storm, with these people, to provide us with an opportunity to see and experience in a way that was otherwise not possible.
As T.S. Eliot wrote in Four Quartets, “We shall not cease from exploration; and the end of all our exploring; will be to arrive where we started; and know the place for the first time.”
At the end of day seven the roads out of town were clear and ready for travel. On day eight of the Road Trip to Kansas we were on our way to Sioux Falls, and had learned again that things are often not what they initially appear to be. God, if we are paying attention, often provides opportunities for us to see things to which we are blind in our humanness.