Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Freedom Tour

Over the last few days I've seen America the Beautiful. The Columbia River from Vancouver east: moody, foggy, mystical; 


















Bridge of the Gods;


Highway 30, a picturesque road leading to Hagerman Fossil Beds in, um, Hagerman, where Grace wanted in on the picture;


and to Balanced Rock;

and Balanced Rock Park in Buhl, Idaho, where I boondocked one night and still can't believe that not only was I allowed to stay there, I had the park to myself when the day trippers left. That's Grace in the background. Again.


And then I hit Utah. There's a reason one of the license plate choices says UTAH!. I've traveled some here and there and I have never seen a more breath-takingly, heart-achingly beauty than in Utah. Have you ever experienced depthless beauty in whatever form - music, art, a brand-new baby, a spiritual awakening, looking into your lover's eyes - that has so filled, filled, filled your heart that you almost can't stand it, that if you look or listen or stay in that moment for one second longer you know your heart will burst with joy? I hope you have.
It is transcendent.
It is unforgettable. 































I drove up a long, steep road into Arches National Park the other day and thought my heart would explode with the joy of the magnificent loveliness everywhere I looked. This sounds pretty darned flaky but if you have ever been overtaken by this powerful awareness you know exactly what I mean. I will never forget how that place made me feel. I was, most simply, touched by grace. It was elevating, humbling, exhilarating, and bittersweet. I knew I would have to look away but I also knew it would stay with me. It was one of the most power-full moments of my life. 


No photo I could ever take can do the place justice. That night I boondocked in Manti-La Sal National Forest, down a dirt road a couple of miles off the freeway. Nothing there but me, total and utter silence, and a night sky flooded with stars. It was a very good way to end the day. 

The next morning I stopped at Newspaper Rock,where the only other visitors were a man my age and his teenage son, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.



















I followed them to another place down the road, an unmarked trail a person at their hotel told them about, and we set off on foot to find dinosaur tracks and supposedly better, older petroglyphs than were on Newspaper Rock. It was rough, rocky country. We were climbing at what felt like a 45 degree angle and at an elevation of probably 5300 feet, and me in slippery-soled sneakers. I made it, though not without thinking I'd break my ankle any time now, and we saw some spectacular art. 



That's a dinosaur footprint, or so we told ourselves.



I questioned myself at the start if I was being an idiot, going off into back country with these two men, but I felt no danger at all. They were just two nice people who let me tag along. We then hop-scotched our way down the road to Canyonlands National Park, where they went their way and I mine. Here's Grace again. What a camera hog.
















I've met wonderful folks even early on in this trip, people who've extended kindness, offered any help I needed, and engaged in conversation. The freedom in the title of this post means a lot of things to me. One of them is the freedom to talk to people and to learn a little about who they are without the uncomfortable awareness of an I'll wait outside impatience or an all-purpose distrust that have been in the background for years. I lived with that. I accepted it! What an fool I was to compromise my self to keep someone else happy, which never worked anyway. No more.

I may have had this different life imposed on me with unending shards of cruelty, but I will now admit to the world that I was done a favor. I was given a gift I would never have given myself. The divorce was, from the start, all about him despite the words he said, but I am surprisingly feeling like the winner (she said with quiet satisfaction) and life is looking good.

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Thought for the day:
There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect. (Gilbert Keith Chesterton)


2 comments:

  1. I have always called the beauty you experienced "feeding your soul". It is the balm, the salve that helps us bind our wounds.
    Filling our awareness, our souls, we begin to fill the voids and heal. I am so glad you have found this and I pray you continue to see this around every corner.

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    Replies
    1. That's what I call it too. I also call it filling me up. I've felt it many times, the last just a couple of days ago at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe. There are some churches that are beautiful places but I don't feel anything special. And then there are churches like this one. I can always tell the moment I walk in because I feel an immediate calm, a settling like sand filtering through stones. You're right; it's healing and renewing.

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