Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I am not much of a tourist. I prefer to meet a place unknown to me on its own terms, to partici-
pate with it and not affront it with demands.  It is thrilling enough for me to just be in the foreign places that I visit; without having to "see the sights." 

True to form, I did very little sight seeing on my journey across Arizona last month, with perhaps two exceptions.  I drove all the way to the Four Corners expressly to experience Monument Valley.  And I returned (the long way, due to a road having been washed out) via Page for the sole purpose of visiting Antelope Canyon.  

I had read that the Navajo pray before entering Antelope Canyon.  It is a sacred site to them--an "earth church" I want to say, now that I've experienced it.  I had also read prior to leaving Boston that 11 people died in that canyon on August 12, 1997.  I even watched a video, a simulation of how a flash flood can overtake the canyon, as it did on that fateful day.  

A bronze memorial near the entrance bears the names of those who perished in that flood. My guide paused there at the start of our tour to say a few words about what happened that day, and why we were safe to enter on this day.  "It has not rained, so no floods today," he assured us and continued forward, leading us down into the slot, into this underground sandstone temple.  Some might have been apprehensive about entering. I was not. My posture was not fearful but reverent. I wanted to show my respect, to meet this sacred place of the Navajo with reverence, so I made a prayer, an offering, in advance. 

Perhaps it was this posture of reverence that caused it, I don't know.  But I felt the canyon showed herself to me.  I snapped and snapped almost without ceasing (a first for me) along the path of about 15 minutes' walk, if you made it uninterrupted.  We spent over an hour down there.  I took about 600 pictures.  I've never had such an experience photographically speaking.  I don't quite know how to describe it, except to say that it was as if the canyon were saying "take this, take this, take this, and take this too," all along the way.  Gift after gift she gave me, without reservation.  I thinks it's fair to say I was in a state of awe throughout.  I was astounded by the beauty I was shown.  And it was thrilling to see my camera was recording it. 

What will become of these photos?  I don't know.  I know that to use them "commercially" requires the permission of the Navajo.  For what purpose were they given to me?  I don't know.  A memorial perhaps?  One panel for each who perished?  This remains to be seen.  In the meantime, I am finding--a first--that I can only view a few of these images at a time, so I have yet to see them all.  There is so much energy, so much power in them, I have to pace myself.  Not unlike chocolate truffles I suppose, they are too rich to absorb in one sitting.

Putting this particular trip together had been stressful.  One asks oneself in such moments:  is it all worth it?!  Still, I pressed on.  Then chaos, tragedy struck Boston.  My flight out was on the Manhunt Friday after Marathon Monday.  That I made my flight out felt nothing short of a miracle, given that the city, for the first time in history, went into a "lockdown" just minutes before I left to catch the train to the airport.  There would be no trains.  No taxis either, I discovered as the whole thing unfolded before me where I stood with my suitcase at hand.  Helicopters overhead, a feeling of terror accumulating.  The distinct air of "go inside and be safe" seeping like a noxious vapor into an exquisite, sun-drenched, electric-blue-skied spring morning.  But a torch of grace lit my way, and has stayed lit... well, through to now. 

It's clear that I was supposed to go.  There were so many "almosts" that might have interfered--two that would've kept me from entering the Canyon, even.  I was there, not here in this injured city during those days of trauma, by Divine appointment.  I made my appointments--appointments I did not know I had until after the fact.  And I am changed, still changing, from the energetic shifts that resulted--at Antelope, and beyond.  I am still absorbing it all.  

That is all I know for now.  That is enough.  The rest will be revealed in its own time.


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