The other morning I was out early, walking for exercise and enjoying the invigorating predawn experience. It was cool enough that I could see my own breath. Pushing my pace up the mountain road to keep my heart rate up, I was not having much trouble doing so . . . keeping my heart rate up that is. My wheezing fight for air and the regular bursts of steam emanating from my lungs must have caused me to look and sound like a mini Iron Horse trundling up the asphalt. These are the reasons I work out alone and take my covert excursions by dawn's early light or after dark, and why I am seldom found on well traveled byways. As I moved steadily up the hill, I noticed my shadow leading the way just out in front and to my right. Looking back over my left shoulder, I witnessed a full and luminous moon spotlighting my upward moving motion.
Navajo Monument Valley Basket
Earlier, when I left the house and initiated my journey, the moon lay screened behind a curtain of cloud cover; I felt shadowed, protected from view. But now, with the advent of the new moon, I felt . . . illuminated and exposed. My once secluded perambulation had turned into an outright promenade. Now I understand why Navajo people believe their ancestors might have seen the moon as an eavesdropper. When Anglo people first appeared on the scene, the Dine' must have seen the transparent face of a white man looking down upon them, leaving them to feel a bit betrayed. It is hard to go incognito with this illuminating inhabitant of the Sky World hanging over your head.
As I trudged onward, the moon began to sink on the western horizon and the cloud cover began to dissipate. The atmosphere surrounding my walk caused me to start thinking about local cultures, and how so much of the Native American experience is on the verge of extinction. I suppose every belief system experiences change or, worse case scenario, downfall. Upward moving spirituality develops into dominant society, which overtakes and overcomes those less advanced or unwilling to adapt. The trick to denominational survival seems to be assimilation of knowledge and understanding, while holding onto the basic building blocks of morality, compassion, respect and, mostly, love. Hopefully the best of all worlds will eventually survive. That ancient orb slowly disappeared beyond the edge of the rugged landscape and was eventually swallowed up there. The moon would surely return, altered slightly, but ever faithful no matter what we think of it.
Reaching my upper limit for the morning, I stopped, turned and bent to stretch that pesky nerve running down my hip and leg. As I straightened up, my eyes were drawn to the east, where life began and begins anew each day. There lay Sleeping Ute Mountain, layered in blankets of colored stratus cloud. There were wispy bands of gold, peach, rose and abalone created by the promise of a new day. Directly over the heart of the great resting mythological relic was a short thin band of multicolored cloud. This rainbow bar rested there as if assuring the world life remained within. To me, the mountain is reminiscent of a nearly lost culture; a sign that age old thoughts and perspectives can and will disappear if not progressive. It is my guess that the monumental Ute sleeping there will remain at rest forever more.
As I moved down the roadway and dawn began to break, the great sailing ship of the desert became visible in the distance. Shiprock, the massive volcanic dike that pushed its way up through the Rhyolite rubble and rises 2,200 feet from the floor of the surrounding New Mexico desert could be seen over 100 miles from where I stood. To me it was yet another reminder that we must all leave port, push our bounds and endeavor to grow as much as humanly possible, At least this is what I tell my children. I constantly remind my offspring that we must all embrace the future to survive and progress. As knowledge and understanding grow, so does perception. I also let them know that they will forever be loved and cherished in their home port. As I briskly walked in the direction of my bay of contentment, I stuffed my hands in the pockets of my jacket to keep them warm. My chilled fingers contacted an iPod. I happily brought forth that magical device, plugged in the earphones and hit shuffle. From that mini-megaphone came the voice of LeAnn Rimes singing: Can't Fight the Moonlight.
With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.