Friday, June 26, 2009

it's a good time for superman to lift the sun into the sky

i went to see the imax the other day, because it was free... and because it's awesome. in the movie they describe the grand canyon as a "scar" on the earth. this is something that i've thought about - a lot - before. the grand canyon as a huge, gaping scab on the face of the earth. i was walking around one of the camp grounds and one of the girls asked me why i had come back to the grand canyon. this seems like an obvious question, but i took a few seconds to think about it for the first time. i told her that the grand canyon is continually such a spiritually rich place for me - and mostly this is because the canyon, itself, is this constant reflection of so many things to me. recently i've been meditating more and more on what the grand canyon is. and what i've realized is that it is me. that i am it. we both have scars, big ones and little ones, ones that cut deep like the main canyon, and others a little less deep and severe like the side canyons. but regardless, all have been cut with the ugliness of time, experience and the severing of bonds and relationships. all, regardless of how deep or how painful are what make the grand canyon... grand. the canyon has been carved by thousands of years of erosion, breaking away, falling apart and it is beautiful because of this. the bible echoes this theme, so much, in the psalms it says that God requires of us a broken and contrite heart / we have jesus, himself, broken bread / or even the ripping or breaking of the curtain / and many other examples of God desiring our brokenness. the reality is that we're all broken, a mess, rock and dirt and dust and erosion, so the only question then is: will we embrace these scars, breaks, cracks and canyons as beautiful? or will we, like most tourists, pass by them for a few moments and then move on to the gift shop to get a grand canyon pencil or pen? are we afraid to get lost in the darkness, desolateness, the isolation of the canyon walls / of ourselves? will we explore it, or just sit on the edge of it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

there is no song sweeter than the song you sing to me

i had most of the day off, besides a class on radio etiquette in the morning. i took the small hike (maybe only a 1/2 mile?) to shoshoni point. it's a private point, not "open" to the public or marked on any map. so, in most ways, it's the only place on the rim in the national park that you can actually be alone. even most of the "locals" don't know where it is or how to find it. the walk up to the point was unbelievable - the canyon, in general, can feel like such a dead place. rock, sand, dust, dirt - erosion, hot sun, trees that look like crippled men and the faint smell of fire everywhere. this morning i was shown, and reminded of, the delicate balance of life and death in this place. there were moths - moths - everywhere. beautiful ones, dancing, fluttering - everywhere. along with the moths came the wild flowers that stood in an awesome juxtaposition of the dead-looking, and actually dead trees. as i was walking to the rim, i kept thinking about the idea of God giving us enough. the flowers, the moths, were just enough today - just enough life, just enough color. i think in pittsburgh i wouldn't have noticed them because there's so much life, water, color and green / but here, in this high desert, there's just enough color, just enough life, and water and shade - never too much. but always just enough.

every moment, i believe, carries the hidden possibility of a word coming from God. is there any moment, any event through which God does not speak? one autumn you see a flock of geese migrate over your house. you wake up to rain spattering on dark bedroom windows. you read a poem. a child reaches for your hand. you see someone on the street. you meet a friend in a shopping mall. and in the midst of them you recognize the sound and touch of God . . . or you do not. that is His gentle, noncoercive way of coming to us -- always coming. - sue monk kidd

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

all secrets and lies / let them out

the more pictures i take of the grand canyon, the better i get at it. the better i get at it, the more i realize that i will never actually be good at it. i mean, that's the point of this huge hole in the ground, anyway. man can't have it, own it, capture it, know it. it doesn't work. it still remains largely unexplored and also incredibly deadly. people are dying here all of the time. i guess being here is this constant reflection of so many obvious life lessons / mainly ones of biblical proportions. i guess this is my lame attempt at some sort of update. and so this is what i have to say about life here, a second time around. firstly, i miss my friends, a lot. i miss our times here - their ghosts are everywhere. i can't get away from them, most of the times, and i'm okay with it. every beautiful thing here seemed better when shared with them. trying to feel communion with the group here this summer is very difficult for me. hopefully in time, that'll change. my job is fantastic - i like the front desk, i like the music they play, i like my co-workers, i like the actual job. much better than the gift shop. i'm still adjusting to the uniform and shoes that hurt my feet. other than that, everything else is just okay. everything is slower. there's a rhythm that makes sense to me: work, walk, eat, walk, friends, walk, sleep. you find your problems follow you though. you follow, not the person you wanted you to be in the new place. that's okay. if you felt distant from Him in pittsburgh, you probably still will at the grand canyon - only you might feel more guilty about it when standing on the edge of one of the wonders of the world. i'm learning to play the piano again and hopefully the guitar. there's a lot to be learned about christianity, christian community and jesus through your frustrations with it. i left a city, a community, a group of friends who were progressive, smart, thoughtful and serious. i moved here, to find a lot of the things i hate about christianity and christian community. sometimes it seems like a stupid move because of that - why go back? why revisit the conversations, the fights, the arguments, the anger? i guess i'm still idealistic enough to believe that both sides still have things to teach each other - that, on both sides of the fence, there are still things to be learned here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

new mexico, arizona, grand canyon

i thought about having something to say about being in the grand canyon, but i don't really have much to say. maybe my next post will be more pictures of the grand canyon / surrounding areas. i'm so poor right now that i haven't been able to spend the days off quite like i had planned. once i get paid, there are many / many / many trips to take and therefore many / many / many pictures to take. i really want to take some more pictures on scenic 180 that connects flagstaff and the grand canyon. you go through two national forests, through the san francisco peaks, through some beautiful valleys, birch trees, and then just awesome arizona high desert stuff. also more pictures between the grand canyon and page, arizona. and page, in general ought to be photographed again, because i had an awful camera. and then utah, so much in utah. so much. so much. sleep. monument valley, zion, deserts, state parks, arches, and lake powell, horseshoe bend, antelope canyons . . . . on and on and on . . . . southwest dreams of an alien land.

crazy, crazy storm that welcomed laurie and i into new mexico. we had to pull over. there was a hail storm, lightning everywhere, and a near death experience.40 west between winslow, arizona and flagstaff. the san francisco peaks always look purple and beautiful. i like these two pictures, even if they're similar. taking pictures of the grand canyon is, in general, a useless endeavor. i'm hoping that the longer i'm here for, the better i'll get at photographing it. the colors just make no sense in a camera, the depth, and the hugeness can't even begin to be expressed. so i think the picture below works kind of well, eliminating the color seems to make the pictures work a little better. there will be plenty more to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

texas / your preference for vertical pictures is showing

i guess people have a lot to say about texas and probably a lot of it is true. but i think that texas was one of the most interesting states that we drove through, for a number of reasons. texas was the flattest place i've ever been. it's flatter than i could have ever imagined. it's also emptier than i could have ever imagined. the neatest part is that when we got close to the new mexico border, we all of the sudden just drove off the edge of a huge mesa. essentially, we drove off the great plain. the wild flowers in texas were beautiful, the clouds were beautiful, the grass was beautiful and the world's largest cross left something to be desired for, which is why it's not worthy of posting on this blog. people were also very good to us in texas, particularly the ladies that worked at the amarillo burger king. i got to go to cadillac ranch which is something i've been wanting to do for a while - if you ever get a chance, remember to bring your own paint pens/spray paint.

Monday, June 15, 2009


laurie and i were in missouri. it was by far the greatest state we drove through. after ohio, indiana and illinois, i felt like missouri was the promise land. the trees were big again, there were hills and mountains and it felt good to be there. we were having a lot of trouble with the air conditioning this day - the day before i had nearly passed out from heat stroke. we spent a good part of this day alternating between historic route 66 and the main road. on route 66, we were able to put the windows down and drive a little slower so the wind wasn't whipping in our faces and my hair. i like the picture of the horse the most. it feels really ironic to be posting pictures of a place that is living when feeling like i'm in the place of the dead - in so many ways.