Jay Walljasper | January 19, 2021
The turning point in my long, bumpy and still-unfinished spiritual journey began on a bright summer day when I exited a busy highway outside Sturgis, South Dakota, and headed north into the seemingly infinite horizon of the Great Plains. I was in my 20s and quite certain the Catholic faith of my catechism classes was inconsequential compared to modern progress with its scientific, rational explanations for all things.
Freshly hired as a travel editor at Better Homes & Gardens magazine, I had flown into Rapid City that morning to research a story about the Black Hills. The new job suited me perfectly. Always a restless soul, I began exploring new places almost as soon as I could walk, prompting my parents on one occasion to panic when I wandered away on a downtown street at age 3. Now I was getting paid to see the world.
This assignment, however, did not thrill me. I imagined the Black Hills as a tourist wasteland: Reptile Gardens and Wall Drug cheek-by-jowl with RV parks and Burger Kings. What I discovered instead was a whole new perspective on the universe — although it took me years to recognize it.
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