Nature calls

Some years ago Marie and I realized that but for the month of January, Chicago weather varied from quite tolerable to simply beautiful. The solution became obvious – don’t be there in January. So on the day after Christmas we left for the Green Valley Spa in St. George, Utah. This is from Marie’s journal on the third day of our visit:

Saint George, Utah

Around here, nature is so evident that you simply can’t ignore it. Its powerful magic is everywhere you turn.

On yesterday’s trail hike, I was overwhelmed by the majesty of the canyons, the mountains, and the sky. The color of the sky – that’s what put me over the top emotionally. Even as I write this today, the memory of that color makes my eyes fill with tears.

Mountains, canyons, and blue, blue skies have always taken my breath away. My first exposure to them was the summer of 1962 when I rode the Super Chief to Los Angeles. Prior to that trip, I had been as far as 180 miles away from sweet home Chicago, so spectacular views of nature were no part of my life experience.

But when the train went through the West, I was amazed at what lay before me. I had never seen anything like it. It was holy. A majestic gift from God.  His message of love to me and my kind. And yesterday in the canyons, I felt the same way.

I had two other significant moments in nature yesterday. Because it was the last day of the year, Green Valley invited its guests to a Ceremony of Intention at its labyrinth. A labyrinth, as you may already know, is an ancient geometric pattern through which you walk. You walk slowly, following many turns and changes in direction of the path, to the center of the pattern. You think. You pray. You thank. And then you follow the same pattern in reverse, leading you out.

The night was cold and clear. A fire was blazing in the center of the labyrinth pattern. Moonlight and stars made the path easier to see. The dozen of us each brought along lists written earlier of what we wanted to leave behind in 2009, what we wanted to create in 2010, and what we were grateful for. After walking slowly to the center and considering our lists one last time, we burned them. Then we began our walk out of the labyrinth.

Music played — tribal music of sorts with a strong but gentle drum beat. A flute joined in. The fire crackled. Although I have walked labyrinths before, this was different. I was peaceful, relaxed, and fully aware of both the solid ground beneath my feet and the lively fire I could see and feel. I felt close to the earth.

Lyle and I talked about the experience as we walked back to our room. We had tea and wished each other Happy Anniversary. Then to bed.

After the light was turned off, we were keenly aware of how bright the room remained. We looked up at the skylight directly over our bed. And there in the very center of the skylight was the moon. A blue moon, the second moon in the month of December. A beautiful goodnight kiss from a loving God.

This is an amazing place, Utah. And earth.

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