Updated: Mar 25, 2022
Have you ever noticed that certain destinations, specific journeys, can engage the healing of your spirit?
A casual ascent up a mountain ridge on horseback has a way of elevating my mood every time.
Spending twilight with my toes sifting through a million sand granules, the kiss of windswept salt off the ocean on my bare shoulders, and the rhythmic cadence of waves always encourages a youthful glow in my soul.
These are seemingly universal conversations with specific landscapes. Many retellings of such adventures demonstrate the same impressions left upon those who recall them with introspection.
One of my life’s greatest adventures brought about a change in the landscape of my soul, the depth of which was unexpected. Yes, I expected my trip down the Grand Canyon to be both invigorating and inspiring. Yes, I knew such an excursion would leave me a changed person in some way. However, entering the first days of the rafting trip, only a short time after my mother’s death, I had no preconceived notions of healing.
As we dove into the depths of the canyon and the river, I was ushered into the depths of my character and spirit to explore what secrets they had to reveal.
Six days into the journey, we explored yet another small slot canyon. Each previous canyon displayed its own personality.
One showed off house-sized boulders that gave way during its formation, ripples of different colors weaving their way through the stone. We climbed atop and draped our legs over the rounded edges as our faces lifted to the sun.
Another lead us through elaborate and intricate, weaving mazes. The curves of the water-scoured rocks were fluid, dancing. In some places we were dropped into a shallow wading opportunity, in others we scaled upward relying on the walls as braces for hands and feet.
On this day we hiked upward, along the face of the canyon, gaining elevation at a staggering rate. In the heart of ravine was discovered a sweet oasis held nestled in the arms of the red rock. After much time enjoying such a spot, we descended back to our camp for the night.
The next morning, I returned. Alone I trekked, the lure of such a space called to me like a siren, her voice gentle and caressing. When I arrived, I settled down on a sun-bathed rock, below a waterfall dressed with the luxurious greenery of ferns and moss. At first I sat in wonder, my knees held to my chest by the embrace of my arms. As I grew more comfortable, I sprawled out on my belly exposing my skin to both the warmth of the rock and strokes of sunshine. The humming glow of red rock caverns reverberated throughout my being.
In this remarkable space I felt the environment around me weaving its way into every cell of my body. The warmth dispelled the shadows and brought light to the places within me I had banished my despair. The glow moved inward to generously inhabit those deep fissures, dissipating the cold that had gripped them.
After what seemed hours of basking in such restoration, I was led to dip the warmed caverns of my soul into the emerald pool beside me. I slid off the rock, first swishing my toes gently back and forth, the water swirling around them. I then worked my way up to my thighs with hesitation, and with a burst, completely immersed myself. The heat of my body was caressed by the cool water and my skin was left rippling. I climbed out of the water renewed. Without words, without actions, without work, this primordial landscape healed me.
I have looked upon the many marvels of nature with a great measure of respect for the ways in which they moved me. For this day on the Colorado River, I will always carry enormous gratitude. For it was on this day the landscape of my soul was forever changed.
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