A Grand Cathedral

the-grand-canyonThere are no words, no photographs, no symphonies that fully capture the majesty of the Grand Canyon. It is a wonder, a place that defies the imagination. It is one of my favorite spots on this earth.

I have been to the Grand Canyon many times. It never fails to take my breath away. It changes even as I stand observing on its rim. The colors vary from moment to moment as shadows and light engulf the millions of nooks and crannies in the rocks. The river that built this magnificent edifice snakes far below seeming to be only a tiny brook rather than a body of water capable of raging. Those who come to view nature’s masterpiece are mostly silent as though they are inside a cathedral listening the to voice of God. There is a state of reverence that comes with the good fortune of being in this place. The whispers represent a veritable United Nations with visitors speaking the languages from Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. There is delight in their voices for the sights are the stuff of dreams.

I always find myself in a reflective state of mind as I gaze at the canyon. I feel so tiny. My own problems pale and somehow seem almost silly in the presence of such grandeur. I find a contentment in knowing that my place in the universe is but a speck. I am part of something far more important than just myself. I feel a communion with the strangers who are sharing this moment with me. I sense that they too understand that we are bound together in harmony with a force that puts our individual lives into perspective. I love feeling so at peace.

I brought my girls here when they were children. We arrived just in time for the sun to set. I felt that I had seen that daily occurrence for the very first time. It suddenly was no longer just a routine. It was a miracle. We stood together in awe as a family. It was a moment for us. It would resonate as a remembrance of joy when I experienced tough times. It was an image upon which I often drew.

When my children were older we returned along with our dear friends, Egon and Marita. We were already very close but our trip reinforced the love that we had for each other. We talked and laughed and created more memories. Both Egon and Marita are sadly gone. We all miss them. Somehow I felt their presence at the canyon. I recalled the stories and jokes that we enjoyed together. I knew that their spirits were in the wind that blew across my face.

Now we have come full circle by bringing two of our grandchildren to the Grand Canyon. They were dubious as I attempted to explain how glorious a sight they were going to witness. The ride was long and our wait at the entrance to the park took well over an hour. I worried that I had oversold the experience and that they would be disappointed with reality. I need not have feared. The Grand Canyon always makes a profound statement with both those who are seeing it for the first time and those who return for just one more look. Even though they were tired and hungry both kids admitted that it was an epic experience.

Sedona was our home for the Grand Canyon leg of our trip. It is a beautiful and well planned town nestled by a national forest and ringed by deep red buttes and rock formations. Swimming holes abound in the area along with luxurious homes built on the sides of hills that provide their owners with breathtaking views. Billed as the most beautiful town in Arizona, Sedona is a delight for the eyes in a state where much of the landscape in arid. It would be a grand place to just sit and relax for days under the shade of its many trees.

Traveling westward across America has helped me to realize just how incredible our country actually is. There is no place on earth where such a vast area with so many millions of people has been able to stay reasonably united. While we seem to be in a state of disagreement at the present time, the truth is that in the end we all are part of a land that is undeniably great. We have problems to address but we have a way of eventually finding answers. Few countries on earth are able to boast of such diverse geography and populations. We treasure the freedom to enjoy our differing ethnicities, political persuasions, religions and customs. They are the aspects of America that truly highlight our greatness.

Given the events of this summer, I have found our trip to be therapeutic. It has reminded me of the vastness of our land and helped me to understand that the evil that exists is but a small part of the grand scheme of things. It has shown me that we humans are adaptable and resilient. Mostly we are kind and generous. We will get through the difficult times. It happens again and again just as when nature tussles and caresses us. It is the way of life and here in the United States we have a very good shot at setting things aright. 

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