Unmasking the Monuments

We drove in after dark. Large shadows, looming in the night like masked phantoms, lay in wait.

Half an hour before first light, wind shook the camper van. Rain urged us to stay under covers with tinny percussions. But we had come with one purpose: to witness dawn unmask the monuments.

I put on my warmest clothes with a sense of defeat and doubt. We wouldn’t have much of a sunrise in a storm.

When I stepped outside, as if on cue, the rain eased to a drizzle, merging the space between earth and sky, wrapping us in mist. Lightning flashed in the distance — dancing in bold streaks — thunder clapped to proclaim the illumination.

I sat patiently for the show. At first she was only a fleck below the clouds, but soon, a sliver of pinkish orange light at the horizon split the sky.

Black against the night sky, the monuments began to emerge, to take clearer shape, to reveal their red rock, to show they surround us near and far, to claim their land. Castles, cathedrals, ancient architecture shaped by the Artist’s hand, etched and chiseled into towers, walls, cliffs, and colorful layers.

When dawn captured the sky, we stepped through red sand in the direction of the three closest monuments, the only ones on the early morning trail. The smell of rain rose from the earth, but it was dry and quiet. Passing clouds, their softness, an ever-changing background, emphasized the stoic rocks.

Walking below, standing at their feet, staring up at their grandeur, I felt the knowing of the One far greater than I. Ancient energy, with the power to lift its own monuments and hold them in its hand as if to say, “This — is my Creation.”

Rain continued its pilgrimage to earth as we finished the trail. I looked to the monuments, a rainbow appeared momentarily, as if to say, “So are You.”

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Zion Transformation

Alone at 6:00 am, watching the sunrise over rock formations, climbing natural staircases, feeling smooth buttresses with the palm of my hand, I come to sit on the top of a earth-made spier — I feel like the uppermost piece of a cairn. I sit patiently, open to a message from the landscape.

A sparrow flies in circles around me. Scat below my feet tell me deer enjoyed this view not long ago. I recalled the joy I felt seeing the hot and thirsty doe near Angel’s Landing the day before, and my surprise to see her at high altitude. A tree grows from a crack in the rock behind me — most of the trees and plants I see here seem to force their way through hard, impossible places. The sun’s rays pass by clouds, creating beams of majestic light that illuminate the red, yellow and orange striped rocks around me. Only birdsong breaks the silence of the dawning day.

I look upon the earth before me. It is almost impossible to believe, sitting on a rock perch, that 275 million years ago this region was a flat sea basin. But it’s true: The iconic Zion landscape in Utah is the result of millions of years and five geological processes: sedimentation, lithification, uplift, erosion and volcanic activity. I look upon a working transformation — geological processes that continue today.

The resulting transformation is an unparalleled beauty that speaks to the soul of an unseen power. Several times while hiking I had to sit and pause in stillness and quietude to fathom the power of the rivers and the earth’s movements that created the structures and forced the earth towards the sky in vast towers and points.

I wondered, would the flat basin give home to the many plants and animals I had seen? Would the flat basin draw tens of thousands of visitors in a day with its grandeur? Could it provide the same inspiration to artists, have the power to pierce your heart, and take away your breath?

The spirit of Zion revealed itself to me with insight into myself.

I am a creature of change. I actively pursue transformation of my consciousness to become a more radiant reflection of human possibility — an instrument of equanimity, love and peace. I long to be transformed, to allow the processes within and without mold me and sculpt me into the shapes that I am destined to become.

The work of authentic transformation is ongoing and multifaceted: Zion is still changing. The rocks tell me to be humble, relax into the processes, accept and surrender to the unseen power. Growing pains must not be resisted or feared, but rather, seen as an effect of personal evolution. Life provides limitless opportunities for inner refinement; being present to reflect my true nature requires a Zion-like patience.

Sunrise; Zion National Park
Doe near Angel’s Landing
Orange Rocks
Yellow rocks
Once a flat sea basin
A tenacious tree
Virgin River; a major force in Zion’s transformation
Trees growing out of striped rock
Narrow Canyon