Three years ago, I took in a lost soul. An old Little League buddy turned spiritual advisor walked through tragedy and turmoil back to the desert. The desert welcomed him readily, eventually giving him a gorgeous blonde and a healer’s job. And I gave him my couch. So began the 505’s endeavor to become Zion, a Refuge for the weary and heartbroken, the contrite and perhaps even the prodigal.
In the hierarchy of karma, running a Refuge must at least place a person at the lieutenant level. Comfort, ears, beers and a place to toss a suitcase are what I have to give. And not everybody will, I’m sure. But anyone who is in my vast and intricate memory of great days and notable experiences is guaranteed at least as much.
After housing Freaktown for several months, I hit the road, bunking on couches, floors and actual guest beds for more than two months. My hair grew long and my beard reached what most thought was an uncouth shagginess, what I saw as a symbol of complete freedom.
I embraced the West, as much of it as I could, sharing late nights with old friends and strong drink. Along the way I read Lord of the Rings, and began thinking of myself and my journey in Middle Earth terms. I was a traveler from the Great Southern Desert, on my way north to kin and allies, defeating peril along the way.
I had nearly entire days of open highway, on winding roads through ancient mythical forests (the Redwoods) and wide Interstates across vast wastelands (that part would be Wyoming). I slept in great cities, walked great streets through tall buildings and absorbed more of the world in a shorter time than I’d ever before or since.
And now, I’m again running a Refuge, in the same place. Tragedy and heartbreak has sent one and soon another of my best friends couch-ward. I’m grateful for the company, glad to offer the shelter and broken to pieces at its necessity.
But Refuge is part of life, sometimes a large part, sometimes as big a part as Adventure, Achievement and Love.
My guests have lives with no maps, and theirs is a perspective that is oddly compelling. In no way do they measure future in 40-hour blocks and they do not need to change out of work clothes at any point in the day. Their minds are solving problems, large great ones that despite the pain open doors all over, strange magical doors in places nobody has ever thought of as a way to go.