I have never been to The Grand Canyon. I know some basic facts, its average depth is about 1 mile and it is roughly 277 miles as it meanders along its path. It’s said to be beautiful and have a mysterious power over its visitors. Those who love the canyon are willing to die for it. And The Sierra Club was founded to protect its water.
Even though I have never seen it I feel like The Grand Canyon and love have a lot in common. Sometimes you can be awe struck, have depth of at least a mile and meander through it for hundreds of miles, you can fill its red rock caverns with good intentions and sweet words and still the river runs uninterrupted, its ancient rock structures are unblinking and it changes only in geometric time and only in its own way. You can be willing to die for it and you may form any number of associations in its interest.
Still, both this type of love and the Grand Canyon can only belong to themselves. I am now aware that some love is for observing and some for holding and being returned but either way it is still love.
I have visited the Grand Canyon of love and seen it. I am in reverence of it but like all such grandeur it is a wonder to behold but it is not the same as the essence of abiding, daily love. It is also not what will truly awaken a sleeping soul. Love which turns back to you and brings its water to your thirsty mouth and heart rests in the humility of the truly sacred. It is the small stream which sustains you. Standing in the presence of greatness such as the Grand Canyon may take away your breath but the smile of a friend, the overheard wisdom on a city bus, the quiet observation of a humming bird is what gives you breath–and life.
If you cannot find a way to awaken on the bus you will not wake in Tibet or the Grand Canyon or any holy place because the holy lies within. If you cannot be loved as you are, where you are then you may be looking in the wrong places. Enjoy your big romances and loves but live for the ones which live for you in return.
Each night before sleep when I found myself under a Santa Fe night as a resident, temporary monk at the beautiful Upaya Zen Center so close to the stars I felt their pull, the kind priests would say to us as novitiates, “Time passes swiftly. Do not squander your life.” I am becoming more convinced that tossing all my love in the vastness of a Grand Canyon style life of hungry adventure may be squandering this one precious and wild life I have been given. Seeking seminal experience to confirm the wonder that is our complex and rich world may take my feet too far from my soul. I am a wanderer and poet but it may be time to put away my suitcase and note the poetry which already cries out within me rather than seeking it somewhere else.
So my Grand Canyon love I am giving notice. I have loved you deep and wide but nothing but the desert winds and the wild waters move through you. My restless mind and wondering feet, I am also giving you notice. We will be sitting still now. We, heart, soul, mind, body and magic, will be noticing the love which has been so quietly and sweetly returned in the softness of the earth’s turning. My bare feet can feel the dirt and grass right beneath me and it is all the adventure I can ever absorb in a single lifetime. There are micro movements, planets of reality all waiting to be seen and understood in every wild flower. It’s time I spent more time seeing them.
It is time for small ambition. It’s time for the hugging of children, for the warm meal on a cold night served to one hungry person, for the encouraging praise of one student, for the noticing of the worm as she struggles to cross the saturated sidewalk. Anyone can be in awe of The Grand Canyon but can I see the entire universe in the wildflower outside my door? Anyone can observe the Eagle in flight and praise her but how about the crow on the phone wire?
I have never been to The Grand Canyon and one day I may go but not until I have explored the canyons so much nearer, even those within me. I have loved deep and wide and heard the lonely winds in reply. I think now I will choose to love the most difficult person to cherish–me.