By Jennifer Cihlar – Grand Mesa/Grand Junction hamlets – Colorado

Gathering the kids, loading the car, racing up the mountain from the late start we had, was feeling more like a burden and slightly a mistake. I was feeling I should have stayed home but that was my mind speaking, not my heart. 

It was 30 minutes past the scheduled dinner time when we finally arrived. I was feeling anxious to face everyone with how late we were afraid of their impeding judgment. When we walked into the backyard the scene was amazing. Thirty people or so gathered around a long line of tables draped with cloths, covered with food suitable for a royal feast. Laughter soared through the air and we were immediately greeted with radiant smiles, warm hugs, and incredible welcoming.

Instantly I found myself engaged with the charming hearts and souls of this amazing community that had not only taken me in with unwavering acceptance, but had also opened their hearts to my two young children. I sat in calm surrender as I watched my kids frolic through the trees, collect wild flowers, swing from the trees, play with a radiating warm glow amongst these people who I have come to know as my new-found family, and eventually curl up on a blanket next to the fire we circled with love. A fire and community that I find feeds my own heart and inspires me to walk this incredible path I feel calling to me. I found myself with incredible realization…I was home…

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