As mentioned in my posting Traveling- Las Vegas & Sedona on 22 August, Rich and I took a day trip to visit the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I was very excited to make this trip because when I was a young girl growing up in England, many of my friends wanted to go America. There were those who were enthralled at the thought of visiting New York City, others who wanted to see the White House and the nation’s capital, and yet others who were attracted to the bright lights of Las Vegas or Hollywood.
But my only desire re-the USA was to see the Grand Canyon. I had seen it in a couple of movies, read about it here and there, and I believe I saw it featured in a National Geographic article at least 40 years ago. (I know, I’m dating myself here!!). From those experiences I knew it was something hugely majestic, but I had not retained much descriptive detail about it from them. So this trip was almost like visiting it with no pre-information about it at all.
As we approached the area of the Grand Canyon, I remember being somewhat puzzled, or maybe perplexed would be a better word. I think I expected the landscape to begin to change dramatically to prepare me for what I was about to see. But everything was amazingly “normal”, fairly flat country with quite a few trees. We entered the visitors center, acquired our tickets, and watched a great informative documentary.
Even as I watched the movie I wasn’t particularly struck by anything special, and we headed out afterward on the road that led into the National Park in Arizona where the south rim is located. Again, I was puzzled/perplexed because the countryside did not change. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting and I was quite surprised when we eventually saw the sign for the first “viewing zone”. We parked and I got out of the car and looked around. Nothing, just the road we had been travelling and a line of trees. But the arrows pointed toward the trees, so off we went.
I don’t think it would have mattered if I had seen a thousand photographs or hundreds of movies, nothing would have prepared me for my first view of the Canyon. As I passed through the trees and stepped out the other side, my jaw dropped, my mouth gaped. I was absolutely speechless. My eyes tried to come to grips with what I was seeing and I was somewhat aware that my mind was scrambling for words to describe it. Some of the words that came to mind were: spectacular, majestic, awesome, awe-inspiring, amazing, stunning.
But even as I tried to put the words together in my head, I realized that none of them would do justice to the landscape unfolding in front of my eyes. I was aware of tears welling up inside me. I felt completely choked up with emotion, my heart was racing and my breathing had definitely quickened. It felt like my soul was seeing a touch of home, and in that moment I knew that one word, and only one word, could describe the view that lay before me – God. I could imagine Him during the days of creation, eyeing this particular piece of the earth and, feeling the inspiration, reaching His hand down and slicing a two hundred and eighty mile long wavy line through the State of Arizona.
Just as words do not do justice to the majesty, the size, the total “stunningness” of the Grand Canyon, so too pictures cannot capture it’s breathtaking awesomeness. But I am including a couple that my husband took as we went from viewing point to viewing point along the south rim. The picture of the raven is included for a couple of reasons. My adopted Native American name is Raven Woman. When we first got out of our car at the condo we stayed at in Sedona, a raven flew onto the roof, and every viewing spot in the Grand Canyon had several ravens hopping around. I felt especially welcomed in both places.
As I stared at this miracle of God and nature, once again I found myself thinking of the first pioneers, those courageous men and women who set out from the eastern settlements of America to explore what lay beyond their known territories. I tried to imagine a lonely cowboy riding across new and unexplored country, galloping along on his horse and coming through the tree line to approach the edge of the canyon. I’m sure he must have experienced feelings similar to those I described above.
For those of you who are interested, here are a few facts about the Grand Canyon. Even as I write them I find them hard to digest and fully take in. The Canyon is nearly two hundred and eighty miles long, reaching from Marble Canyon near the Utah-Arizona border to Grand Wash Cliffs in Mojave County near the Nevada-Arizona border. In some places it is eighteen miles wide – yes, eighteen miles!! And it reaches depths of up to one mile. At the south rim the width of the chasm is about ten miles.
All I can say is, if there is nothing else that you do, no specific location that you have a desire to see in the USA, plan to go to the Grand Canyon. I do not think you will be disappointed and I am sure you will be at least a little bit changed afterward. Happy trails!
I have been in a “dry spell” again:-(. And yet I have so much I want to write about. So many things running around my head. But it all seems stuck inside and I haven’t been able to release it. It is so frustrating. So let me start somewhere and see if I can unblock something.
So much has happened in my life in the last couple of months. Oh nothing monumental or earth-shattering – just life. But it has been so much more than the various bouts of sickness that I have had to contend with. Towards the end of February we had an amazing Lenten Mission at our church. A man fired with the Holy Spirit, Fr. Jim Curtin from Wisconsin, came and woke up a new spirit in our parish. I will eventually write a full posting about that.
One morning in March (fortunately in one of my healthy periods!!), my husband suddenly experienced chest pains and was hospitalized. I discovered through that experience that I have a weird way of dealing with unexpected shocking news when it involves my loved ones. That’s another posting too.
Easter and the celebration of the risen Lord came around again. With each year I become more and more aware of the passing of the seasons and the special church and State feast days and festivals. And each one seems to come around faster and faster. I am sure that this has something to do with what happens internally to us as we get older. Food for another posting.
At the end of March we had the joy of a fleeting visit from my eldest son Marco. He was flown from Naples, Italy to DC for a conference. That was a chance not to pass up and so he came a couple of days early and we flew him down to Florida so we could snatch some time with him. It was a happy time, yet tinged with sadness: his ten year relationship with the love of his life is seemingly at an end. The culprit? Words – those said in anger and those left unsaid. I know in my heart that I can write something about that.
And then came my birthday. Thank God by then I was done with being sick and I was able to celebrate with joy. Dinner with friends one day. Lunch with “the girls” another day. Cards and telephone calls from family across the sea as well as those close by. And wonderful gifts that showed just how much people cared. Beautiful flowers from my husband.
Celebration followed celebration as Mother’s Day came just a week after my birthday. What a day of bitter-sweet emotions. Mother’s Day this year occurred on the fourteenth anniversary of the passing of my own mother. I miss her so much. I still have times when I want to telephone her to share a special moment. I often think how she would have enjoyed a visit to my home here in America.
Again I received calls from my sons overseas. My husband showered me with more flowers and a lovely card. And of course my “baby”, my beautiful daughter Melissa, also telephoned. I was out in the garden and had just seen three butterflies in quick succession. They are my special connection to my mother but almost always cause the tears to flow.
I shared my memory of my mother with Melissa and we both cried some together. Between the tears she said, “I wish I could spend the day with you Mum”. But we both know that while she makes the choices that she makes today, that cannot be possible. And my heart is broken all over again. Sometimes being a mother just plains sucks!!
In the last few days I have realized that much of this being blocked, of my inability to write, is connected to this particular heartbreak. I have to put so much energy into staying upbeat, into not walking around looking miserable, that I have no energy left for play dates with my internal Muse. By the end of the day it leaves me totally exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So now I have to figure out a way to break through this situation so that I can reclaim my inspiration, my time with the Muse. Perhaps I have taken a small step in this direction this week. I have found a support group that may help me to walk through the difficulty in my relationship with my daughter. Then I hope to free myself and my energy and move back into daily regular writing.