Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spiritual Landscapes

We are back from a quick trip to Arizona--the son of grad school friends got married, and while we were there for the wedding, we went to the Grand Canyon.

I was expecting more of a desert fierceness, but we were in Flagstaff for most of our trip, and it reminded me of Asheville, North Carolina.  For most of our trip, there was a cold dreariness, gray clouds scudding across the sky, with periodic interruptions of drizzle and rain.  I found it delightful, although not what I was expecting.

When we went to the Grand Canyon, I was expecting to be overcome, and I was.  At the first glimpse, I grabbed my spouse's arm and said, "Oh, Carl!"  But with all the other humans there, it wasn't as spiritual an experience as I thought it could be.

Before we went, I was amazed at how many people told me that this part of the country was a very spiritual experience, both the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  In fact, I've been intrigued by these "thin" places in our landscapes, where we can almost feel the spiritual aspects seeping right out of the land.  I'm not sure I felt that sense, not in any unusual way.

I also wondered about people who claim that the earth is only several thousand years old, a claim which seems bizarre when I look out at that landscape.  It's a landscape that shows the power of water and wind and the process of erosion--and those processes take so much time to carve out what's left, what we see.

I would like more time to explore that part of the U.S., both the lower part of Arizona and Utah, but this trip was not the time.  We had a different trip this time, a pilgrimage that brought us back to our old friends, that gave us time to reflect on our grad school selves and our current selves.

I'm glad that we gathered for a joyful reason, a wedding.  I know that at some point, it will be funerals that bring us together--and so, for now, I cling to the joyous even more fiercely than I did when we saw our friends get married when we were all in our 20's.

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