Friday, January 11, 2002
Sunset over Bluff by Twin Rocks Trading Post
Recently Jana decided that Kira and Grange are lacking in proper religious education, and began taking them to St. Christopher’s for Sunday services. It reminds me of a time long ago when Rose decided her children were not properly progressing, and Craig and Barry wound up as altar boys at the mission. Had I been a little older, I undoubtedly would have met the same fate. As a result of my youth I never received proper instruction and have suffered from a severe lack of spiritual training ever since.
Although I fully support Jana’s conclusion, I long ago decided that, for me, God resides outside. I therefore take my spiritual training out of doors. Lately that has meant that I am on my bicycle heading north while Jana and the kids are at the mission singing hymns and giving thanks. When I am out on the road, I feel that higher presence in every molecule of my being, and see Him (or Her) in every rock, plant and beautiful vista. I have often described myself as a polytheist, because I support and believe in everyone’s religious choice; so long as it doesn’t harm anyone. Therefore, I see lots of different faces in those rocks, plants and vistas.
The Navajo people who come into the trading post treat us to religious experiences on a regular basis. For example, after the recent heavy rains, I was talking with Lorraine Black, who informed me that the downpour was the result of her throwing water on a lizard during a recent squaw dance. She said, “They warned me, but I did it anyway, and look what happened.” The traditions of the Navajo are firmly grounded in the earth and its creatures, which strikes me as terribly interesting. After hearing her story, I asked if she would mind just sprinkling the lizards rather than inundating them. I also asked if she would consider doing it on a regular basis.
Later that week Elsie Holiday brought in a weaving that she said was intended to generate additional sales, and put us all on the road to economic recovery. She explained that it was a very special sun basket, and that after it was finished she and her family had prayed over it and asked the spirits for a little help. The funny thing was that it worked; business has improved significantly.
Kira and Grange seem to be responding well to their new routine, and I am certainly feeling closer to the Creator than I have in a long time. I generally leave the house about 6:30 a.m., when the day is fresh and everything seems possible. During last Sunday’s ride, I strapped on my cycling yarmulke, left the house before the sun came up and narrowly avoided a collision with our restaurant manager’s Jeep, which may very well have put me in immediate contact with a higher power. Whether that would have meant meeting the higher higher power or the lower higher power is subject to some debate around the trading post, and an object of great concern for Rose, who probably hopes there is still time to salvage me.
Since Barry was out of town, and I had to be back by 9:00 a.m. to open the store, I had made arrangements with Rose to redeem me in her white Toyota chariot if I couldn’t make it all the way to Blanding in time. After my close encounter with Mark’s Jeep, I began the long pull up Cow Canyon with the old Bob Dylan song, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, and the saying “God looks out for fools and small children” running through my mind. I felt a little discomfort when I realized that I didn’t fit neatly into the small child category and had only one other alternative. The air was cool and the hill was fading, so I quickly rationalized falling into that unfortunate class.
As I crested the hill, Janice Joplin’s song about Bobby McGee overtook Bob Dylan, and I could hear her scratchy voice singing, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” Remembering the mindbogglingly beautiful sunset from the other night and the balloon ride that I had recently taken, I realized just how lucky I am to be living and working in a place like this.
View of Twin Rocks from Hot Air Balloon
I had noticed the sunset as I walked out the side door of the trading post one evening, and was stunned by its beauty. The sky was bright red and the clouds seemed to be swirling in a vortex, leaving a dark void in the center of the sky. I had seen beautiful evenings before, but this one nearly overwhelmed me with its colors. Luckily the camera was handy and I was able to digitally record the scene to share with Barry, Rina and Natalie. I don’t think they would have believed me without pictures. As incredible as it seems, they think I sometimes stretch the truth. I suspect it has something to do with not being an altar boy, but I can’t confirm that.
A few days later, several hot air balloonists showed up asking to use the trading post parking lot to launch. I readily agreed, and was offered a ride in return. Barry said he would stay late, so I tumbled into the basket. The ascent took us up over the Twin Rocks, and gave me a view of the entire river valley. It seems incredible that we have such experiences right out our own front door, but in Bluff, anything is possible. Using Janice Joplin’s logic, I am freedomless, but if this is incarceration, I’d like to stay a while.
Based upon the natural beauty we experience here on an everyday basis, and the exceptional people we are fortunate enough to interact with, if God really looks out for fools, this is a fool’s paradise.
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