January 18, 2009 ~ Hiking up canyon I'd missed it. Johnson Canyon Arch. I'd looked for it, but in all of the fallen rock, cracked rock and rock outcroppings...I didn't see it! Years ago I stood under Wall Arch in Arches National Park wondering where the arch was. And then I looked up! Since then I've tried not to embarrass myself by appearing unobservant so I hadn't said anything out loud. But as the sun traveled its arc across the sky, Johnson Canyon Arch, backlit by sunlight, bright white on red and orange sandstone, came into full view. I paused in spiritual appreciation of God's gift. What caught my eye, however, was the rock fall beneath the arch. The fallen rocks and boulders looked as if they'd been set down by the hand an artist in perfect composition. Each blade of grass, every pebble and grain of sand adding color, depth and texture to the scene. The landscape left an everlasting and profound impression on my soul.
I read The Faithful Gardener by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. many years ago. The storyteller provided me an example that even with significant loss (abuse, loss of a baby, deterioration of a marriage), life can be rich and full of love, laughter and happiness once again. Like a burnt and devastated piece of land which is replanted by seeds brought in by wind and fowl, so can our soul be replenished by time, patience and thoughtful friendships. Yet, until I stood before the unfolding picture at Johnson Canyon Arch, I hadn't realized that my life is perfect. It is what its meant to be.
Have you ever witnessed huge slabs of rock falling from cliff face? My limited experience is of "hearing" a rock fall and visiting in the aftermath of one. I remember a summer morning in Yosemite National Park, at sunrise, when what seemed to be a discharge of positive and negative energy--a thunderous clap of lightening, woke me from sleeping. In my waking, I thought it odd as morning light, filtered through tall pines, played on the tent. I unzipped the gray fabric two-man tent expecting to see billowing white thunderclouds on the horizon. There were none. Word swept through the park; a slab of granite had fallen at Lower Yosemite Falls. I have also experienced devastation, again in Yosemite, at Happy Isles following a rock fall. This explosion of falling rock created an air blast in excess of 100 miles per hour topping 300 pine trees and driving debris and splintered wood through other trees and structures. Dust and rocks filled the fast moving air.
Now, standing in Johnson's Canyon in the debris field below the arch, it came to me. Like the rock falls in Yosemite, my life has been filled with the tumultuous sights and sounds of abuse, the wind (my faith) knocked out of me with the death of one child and birth of another being handicapped, and the dust and debris hurling about me in a failed marriage; some of which hurting the people I love the most. Yet, in the end, as I've said, the fallen rocks and boulders at my feet looked as if they'd been set down by the hand an artist in perfect composition. Each blade of grass, every pebble and grain of sand adding color, depth and texture to the scene. My life, like the flawless picture before me, is what it is meant to be.