The grandest of Canyons…
“Grandmother” The little boy sat by the old woman’s side.” How come you have those funny wrinkles on your face?”
The gray haired woman lifted the little boy into her lap and began to rock him gently.
“My precious one”, she whispered softly. “These are the lines that God has have given me for having lived a full life and each reminds me of what I have seen and learned.”
“Is that what makes you wise, Grandmother?” He placed a little hand upon her face, a quizzical look upon his own.
Withered fingers lovingly stroked his hair. “Life runs through each of us from the day we greet the first sun. With the passage of time we each become wiser. Each one of my lines has a story to tell.”
“I think I should like to know of them Grandmother.” He pressed closer to her breast.
She angled his face towards her own, offering a feigned look of surprise. “Why, I think I see one on you already!”
“But I am just a little boy!” Bright eyes grew wide in wonder.
The old mother kissed him sweetly. “Father Time treats all his creatures fairly, great and small. Even Mother Earth is tendered by his touch.”
“Is she as wise as you, Grandmother? Are her wrinkles as your own?”
“She is wisest of them all my darling one. The lines upon her face reveal all we could ever know and we need only sit beside her silently to hear what she may tell us.”
Michael C. Brigati “Thought’s along the way…” 2013
I stood along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and said nothing. If ever I finally understood a moment where words failed me, this was it because the landscape defies description and I felt as if surely I must be the first person to ever see it, such is its power and magnificence. Standing near to me other travelers looked out on an incomprehensible vista. They chattered excitedly. “Beautiful” Unbelievable” “Soulful”. And so it was and certainly had been described thousands of instances previously. Yet I felt a stirring beyond that and could not identify it. Almost as a story from a mythical era that must be told several times before its meaning is clear, I couldn’t help but stare at the enormous chasm, dazzling with colors, its face fractured completely. I decided, or maybe it was decided for me, that I would hike down into the gorge itself, to become part of it all and not simply remain an observer. I have come to accept as truth from my travels, that by immersing ones self in whatever is at hand, that that is the only way to understand and glean what answers are available to the lesson being offered. Be it a hike in a desert to smell a rare bloom, or facing one of life’s desperate challenges and walking through it so as to arrive peacefully and better for the effort needed. It has become my experience that to find the balance we all seek, one must behave appropriate to whatever moment we stand before. All too often, this is more easily said then done, yet always shall it remain true.
I was compelled to follow the Kaibob trail down a fracture in the bedrock. The canyon is almost three hundred miles long, a mile deep, and approaching twenty miles wide. Far below, a gentle turquoise ribbon, which from my vantage point seemed a fathom wide, meandered at its greatest depth. But as is said, looks are deceiving. That ribbon is a knife and it has been cutting the rock face for two hundred billion years. I stopped several times as I went down and touched varying layers of rock, each older than the next, all, older than I could conceive, and became completely overwhelmed by the thought that this mighty force of water had barely scratched the surface! What then is time? I found I could not begin to wrap my head around the concept of it.
But, the Colorado River is just the largest of elements and certainly the easiest to blame. As I kicked up the dust of centuries having no number, I thought of the subtle yet equally invincible components shaping this place. The tiniest snowflakes, the smallest drops of rain, the changes in temperature, the wind driven particles, each constantly exposing layer upon layer, eon after eon and on into a future that seems without end, yet surely must exist for that is the way of all things and the immeasurable mastery that is Time itself.
I stopped on a cliff jutting out over the greatest fissure imaginable upon the face of Mother Earth, a cut that revealed the compendium of wisdom amassed throughout her lifetime and realized in a way never before imagined, just how brief, just how fragile all things are.
I laid my hands on prehistoric ages, and ages with no name even before that. My eyes gazed not simply at colors of rock, but periods in time that our Great Mother has lived through. The cataclysms, the floods, inconceivable periods of growth, all the things that occurred, and made her what she is. And there I stood, amongst the unfathomable wisdom of all that ever was, and upon that which is yet to occur, within a wrinkle of her most wondrous face. Ever so slowly and yet barely understanding the smallest fraction of it, her silent voice called and some deep, unknowable place within me listened. I allowed myself to liken it to one great soul whispering to a smaller one seated before it.
Within each of us is such a place, this I believe. It matters not to me if one has a complete faith and reverence in God or whatever path they themselves choose. After experiencing the Grand Canyon and being humbled to such a degree that all I could comprehend is my own supreme arrogance and utter ignorance, I think we each must accept we are all being acted upon and revealed by forces both great and small under any name. Some quite obvious, others almost imperceptible, all equally undeniable. Combined they reveal our own layers, the days and years of our lives made bare and left exposed. The memorable triumphs, the infinite depths of despair and all seen only in hindsight, leaving only what lies beneath, yet to be made known. As the great Canyon is cleaved and laid bare even as I stand within it, so too am I, any of us, at the very same moment, by rivers and bits of life flowing through us. It is no other way than that and to deny it is both foolish and reeking of fear. I have known both.I began my climb back to the top.
Upon arriving at precisely the spot I had begun I felt like I was looking at the Great Gorge with different eyes and having found the description I could not settle upon when first I saw it. This then was the wisest face of Mother Nature, her deepest wrinkle laid open for any who could understand it and how it was possible for everyone who ever viewed it to think they were the first. It is because that is precisely what it is. And the voice within that spoke so gently to my own? I am now sure it was telling me that the soul of creation in each of us is the grandest of all canyons.