The sky as far as you can see. The wind blowing so hard against your face as you work in the field that the grit and grime sticks to your body. The sweet fresh scent of the North Dakota badlands overtakes me and I take it all in. These are just a few of the things that I love about my beloved North Dakota. My heart and soul have and always belong to the prairie. (Which is where the title of this blog came from)
In seminary, I remember many friends sharing that they did not want to go to ND for their first calls. They didn’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere which I understood then and still understand now. Yet I wished that they would just give her a chance…they would see the beauty that this state has. I do remember a seminary professor sharing how much he loved ND and could possibly see himself moving there someday. My heart loved hearing his words. I wish more people could see her beauty.
Yes that beauty has been taken over in the west by the oil. And it isn’t the same as it once was. Yet ND still holds her beauty. Years ago many people saw the beauty in the land of North Dakota. Teddy Roosevelt spent much time in the ND badlands and loved being there. He even once said, “I have always said that I would have not been President had it not been for my time in North Dakota.” Sakakawea and Lewis and Clark traveled along the route through ND.
For me, there is something so incredibly holy about being in North Dakota. I have spent many nights laying in the grass looking up at the big sky taking in this beautiful land. I have felt the whip of a cold wind on a ND night and have felt the heat of a warm ND summer night on my face. I have heard the Western meadowlark (the ND bird) carry her song throughout the plains of ND. (I love how Teddy Roosevelt captures her voice. He once wrote, “One of our sweetest, loudest songsters is the meadow-lark…the plains air seems to give it a voice, and it will perch on the top of a bush or tree and sing for hours in rich, bubbling tones.”) I have watched my father, uncle, and grandfather work the land of ND. And I have found my place in the prairie! In the prairie, I am able to feel a sense of holiness, a sense of peace, a sense of belonging that I haven’t found anywhere else.
It is hard to put into words what the ND prairies do for my heart and soul. It is hard to share with others that haven’t experienced it like I have. Yet I know that my heart and soul belong to the prairie. Again Teddy Roosevelt seems to have captured my thoughts best. Living in the ND badlands, he once wrote “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” Or as he also wrote “Nothing could be more lonely and nothing more beautiful than the view at nightfall across the prairies to these huge hill masses, when the lengthening shadows had at last merged into one and the faint after-glow of the red sunset filled the west.”