|Chiricahua National Monument|
EARTH DAY! I love that my birthday is the same week as Earth Day. And this past extended weekend was marvelous because I was able to hike so many fabulous landscapes over the course of four days. What better way to celebrate Earth Day?!
|Chiricahua National Monument|
A vibration pulsed through my body when I walked upon ancient rock and gazed at boulders of beings who simply smiled during my passage among them. I walked through a corridor of stone and felt the call of shallow grottoes where millions of creatures great and small have crawled, flown or walked and slept protected across the expanse of time. I was invited to participate in their legacy of rest and pause but I didn't climb into the beckoning spaces. That would have to be another day when a schedule didn’t remind me--by pecking at the pencil marking boxes in my mental checklist--to continue moving into the next step of journey.
|White Sand Dunes National Monument|
One could easily see a photo of the White Sands and mistake them for a vast snowy tundra in Alaska. I quickly decided to remove my sandals and squish toes and soles into the velvety gypsum that was still cool from low morning temperatures. An exquisite sensation of immersion occurred as my feet would sink up to my ankles climbing a dune, contrasting with the firm slap of my bare feet upon the flat packed-sand surface--like a sandy beach after the tide has receded--of a stretch between dunes.
|White Sands National Monument|
Already traveling in a landscape of nearly blinding brightness from clear skies, strong sun, and desert expanse, the additional reflection from the white sand caused my eyes to squint almost shut until I saw through a narrow slit that echoed the horizon. I gazed around me in awe at the waves of sand, and was touched by the realization of how time is incomprehensible without Gaia showing off Her masterpieces as She paints and weaves and breaks apart only to create anew in an entirely fresh and remarkable collage of beauty.
|Valley of Fires New Mexico|
Imagine my delight to see an oddly familiar black expanse to my left as I drove upon the semi-deserted road between White Sands and Albuquerque. Could it be? Is it possible that the shortcut I took brought me into communion with the Valley of Fires? Yes! My heartbeat increased and a broad smile took over my face. There was such intense lightness of being at White Sands, and I was thrilled to feel the volcanic remnants ground me, earth me, no...wrap me from below within the comforting darkness of Her exposed blood long dried and cooled.
If the White Sands were Gaia’s flakes of skin being shed from the dryness and heat, the ancient lava flow, now brittle yet still echoing Her extrusions of transformative desire, was the blood once hidden.
|Valley of Fires|
I hesitated only a moment. I knew that this unexpected stop might cause me to arrive too late for the original destination on my itinerary, but I was compelled. I remembered the Valley of Fires from a childhood vacation; it was firmly embedded in memory along with other nature exposures, and I simply had to take the walk through the black cremains of Gaia’s blood that flowed from deep within Her core.
|400-year-old Juniper at Valley of Fires|
All moisture long gone, She was gorgeous as She fed the plants ... from a 400 year old juniper to the scarlet blossoms of a hedgehog cactus to the teensy purple feather dalea flowers scattered like fuzz upon their scraggly stems and other plants that clung to the bits of settled dust in crevices of the lava. The juxtaposition of white and black experienced within this same day left me giddy, as if I received a gift of harmonic convergence experienced among the sacred earth plane.
|Petroglyphs National Monument|
Meandering, striding, pausing along the shifting trail of rubble and sand, I witnessed the dark rock as the canvas for native images mystical and childlike. Etchings that are 400 to 700 years old seemed young compared to those I saw in Crete last year that were 5000 years old and yet were less visceral in spite of being older. A fascinating contrast involving location, culture, and expression that I had never really thought about until the pilgrimage. The petroglyphs seemed analogous to the pre-Minoan artifacts in their earth-centric and “primitive” art style.
|Petroglyphs National Monument|
When I closed my eyes I could hear drumming and chanting, a rattle made from a snake’s tail, and a coyote howled in concert under the full moon’s illumination. The canyon still provides a fortress for coyotes as one watched me hike along the clearly defined path. The path really isn’t necessary as it simply follows the edge of the dark canyon hillsides that are forbidding in their sheer ruggedness rather than height, and yet a designated trail serves the purpose of preserving the rest of the desert floor. The coyote acknowledged my lack of threat by lying down upon an outcropping of flat rock, and we honored each other’s spirits ... until a noisy runner, panting and huffing, with a pack bumping upon his back sped past me on the trail, probably in training for some competitive event. The coyote leapt to his feet, turned his back on me and the oblivious runner, and loped up the hillside disappearing from my sight around a gigantic black boulder.
|Santa Fe, New Mexico|
On Saturday, I drove to Santa Fe to meet a long time email friend; she invited me to her home and we hiked the trails behind her house, following an arroyo at first until it intersected with one of the trails on the nearby monastery’s 800 acres of wilderness. The way was steep and the sandy soil gave way often beneath my clumsy feet. The view from the peak was worth the effort! I had picked up a rock along the way -- black spots on smooth mahogany -- and meant to bring it home to Ron but left it instead as an offering of gratitude at the cross on the peak. Gratitude for this amazing land and to the Brothers for blazing the trail I had followed to receive the gift of the view from the top.
|Gila National Forest|
The suggestion by Julia that I detour across to Silver City on my way home, thus passing through the Gila National Forest, was a great one. My reward was stunning vistas to feast my eyes upon and tall pine trees raining soothing ions. The road snaked around the peaks and across passes speckled with dark green and pale jade, multiple hues of browns and reds and golds. The bliss of presence as I drove subsumed all sense of time and I became one with Gaia, co-creating a state of immersion in movement across the land and within the planet’s energies.
Four days of diversity, the blessings of Gaia’s many faces and bodies, bumps and folds, secrets and gifts, and always the whisper: “this is only the beginning.”
Thank you, Mother Earth.