There is a place in the Grand Canyon called Red Wall Cavern. It is this place, featured in these pictures taken early on in my trip through the Grand Canyon last winter.
When John Wesley Powell first saw the cavern on his expedition down the river, the one-armed explorer thought that perhaps 50,000 people could fit in its hollowed lens-shaped space. I know that occasionally chamber orchestras play down there and, damn—what I would give to be a member of that audience. To listen to that music in that space—it would be one of those moments I could die within—just close my eyes and drift off into the nether world of nothingness.
I have been thinking about the Grand Canyon a lot this month because a year ago I was rafting its waters. And I am longing for days built on the simple rhythm of sunlight and the momentum of gravity and water. Moving through a canyon which reminds me, always and in all ways, just how small my life is within the larger play of life.
And this is important to me, particularly now, when what is important to me–peace, independence, respect, love, compassion, dignity, and safety–feel at risk since the election of Donald Trump.
It’s at times like this when so much feels so tentative, that I’m grateful I’m not one who believes the earth was created just 6000 years ago. I’ve been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I’ve touched 1.8 billion-year-old rock. Slept on it. Made love surrounded by it. Do you know it would take you about 11 days to count to a million? No eating no sleeping, just counting. But a billion? It would take you 33 years to count that high. Think about the immensity of that.
So when I look at the chaos of the human world, I think back to the canyon, and places like Red Wall Cavern, and the wide lens of time that surrounds us all. It’s temporary comfort for our very temporary lives.