From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our quarterly excursions are opportunities for men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Winter 2019: D&T Grind

On January 24th, 2019, nine men and nine women will head into
the mountains of Santa Cruz for three days and thirty miles of cold and grit. This is their story.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Almighty Decree

Much has happened since our last post. We lost two women. We lost a man. We made a friend.

On a frigid training hike in Pennsylvania, my wife, Sister Aisha, put her right foot on what appeared to be a damp rock. It wasn't damp, though. It was iced over, and with no purchase for her boot, her right leg shot out from underneath her. The weight of her body as it slammed to the earth snapped her tibia and fibula in a clean and catastrophic break.


Her hiking companions stayed with her until she was treated in the emergency room. She called me with an update from the orthopedist. She has a cast than runs from her ankle to the middle of her thigh. No travel for three weeks.

We haven't been married long, and we talked about how wonderful it would be to have this adventure together. She won't be there and I am sad.

Not long after, Sister Wanda pulled out of the trip. And just yesterday I heard from Brother Farukhi who shared his recent struggles with a respiratory condition that precludes his participation.

The fascinating part in all of this is that every single one of them had an intention to hike the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail. Each of them stepped forward out of hundreds of invitations sent. Each of them put their hard-earned money down in a clear demonstration of their resolve. Each of them shared about why this was important.

But there is nothing, no strength of will and no force in the universe that can come between a man and his fate. What God has Decreed is irrefutable. Irresistible. Overwhelming.

The falls at Black Star Canyon have been dry for years. But this past week we had rain, days of rain that slaked the thirsty creek beds and sent water and earth cascading over parched boulders. Sister Sama knew what this meant and she took herself there.

Others knew as well and on that day God decreed that Sister Sama would meet her trail-sister Randa who has been logging impressive miles with her husband, Brother Omar. This was not a planned meeting, but the overwhelming and inescapable Decree of the Almighty.

On that very day, another young couple was drawn to the falls. Sister Salaam was there with her fiancé. She's a noble woman, cultured, intelligent, and committed to the elevation of others. I spent a day with her and Sama in the desert last spring and I won't forget the experience.

Sister Salaam and Sister Sama were reunited right there in Black Star Canyon. Sister Sama asked her to join us at Skyline and she agreed to do so. Without hesitation.

I am a Muslim because there is nothing that articulates the reality of the human experience like Islam.

The blessed and noble Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, told us that a man might spend a lifetime doing the works of the righteous and at the end of his days, just an arms-length from crossing the threshold of death, he makes the decision that takes him to his place in the eternal Fire.

And another man might spend his lifetime in abomination, leaving no unseemly deed undone, and then, just an arms-length from his demise, he makes the decision that secures his place in the eternal Garden.

From where we stand, these are decisions. Sister Aisha made a decision to put her foot on that rock. Sister Wanda made a decision to reassess her priorities. Brother Farukhi made a decision to look to his health. And Sister Salaam made a decision to spend the day outside with the man she will, God willing, marry.

And while we honor that perspective as a means of relating to one another, it is not, in point of fact, reality.

There were no alternatives to those "choices." There is no alternate reality where another option might have been selected. This is the very Writ of God unfolding in accordance with His Wisdom, the searing Truth of which will leave us utterly bewildered.

Bewildered. How is it that men and women with a firm intention over months are denied the experience, but another person out for a stroll is swept up to round out the tribe just days before the trip?

We are not in charge. Not ever. Smashing the idol within us, the belief that we are masters of our destiny, is the single greatest challenge to humanity.

And that is the invitation of the wild.

Step away from that environment that man has created for the exclusive benefit of man, a veritable echo chamber of idolatry. Rather, step into that primordial world where man is naked and hairless, where the temperature does not yield to his will, where the earth does not soften for his repose, where the insects feed upon his flesh and blood as they might any other warm-blooded creature.

Come to the wild where justice allows for the devouring of the foal by the cougar. It is a place where our self-serving standards of fair play and equality are dashed to bits by rocks falling without warning from the hillsides.

We appreciate symmetry. And we are impatient. We construct buildings and societies that seem, to our insistent and hungry eye, balanced.


But the scales are calibrated weighing only the desires of man. There is no symmetry without appreciating the total cost of those desires.

The story of the wild, as I've read it and others before me, is that justice and balance is epochs in the making. All of time and creation is considered. And the rulings are eternal.

Tomorrow, with God's permission, we make our way north.

1 comment :

  1. Reminds of the phrase: Man makes plans and God makes Plans... and only God's Plans matter. A journey like this, also helps us to contemplate the many points you mentioned. It is also a 3 day walking meditation, away from the material world.
    We Go "walkabout" (with Allah's Blessings)...
    Definition of walkabout (from Mr. Merriam Webster)
    1 : a short period of wandering bush life engaged in by an Australian aborigine as an occasional interruption of regular work —often used in the phrase go walkabout.
    e.g. The person who went walkabout was making a ritual journey

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