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Red Rocks and Reaching Out


If October was the month for moving forward then November and December must be the months for sure steps on firm ground.  The desire/need to be "grounded" as we travel through life leaves us naturally conflicted.  Move forward and stay grounded.  Set aside fear and face your challenges head on.  Add the pursuit of peace to your daily to-do list and find time for the effort  amidst your many other worthy pursuits each day. Oh, and considering the season, let's not forget... enjoy a peace filled, joyous holiday season and spend more time with extended family and acquaintances.  Or, how about this one...review my entire year (or as many of us may be tempted - my entire life) and experience a sense of accomplishment.  It's enough to push even the most sure footed of us over the cliff and into the dark abyss of "I can't do this anymore....."  I only wish that somehow this posting could give you the same echoing effect I imagine when I'm in this space.  When I wake from this nightmare I always find myself asking the question.."I can't do what anymore?"  Exactly what is it that is leaving me feeling so utterly incapable and overwhelmed?

I spent several weeks contemplating this very dilemma.  I knew that as a result of my many worthy pursuits this past month I was feeling a bit shaky in the "sure steps on firm ground" department.  I had witnessed others struggling with this same issue.  And, quite frankly, the holiday season which is supposed to be the time for all things peaceful has become more often than not a race to see who can get to January first so we can put this all behind us until next year.  I say to myself, "not me, not this year" but I can not seem to secure my footing as the world around me is in complete conflict with my "higher" aspirations.  Then during a weekend trip to visit my mom in St. George, UT, I found myself in place called The Valley of Fire just outside of Las Vegas, NV. 

Brian and I had flown in to Vegas and rented a car to make the drive East to St. George.  As we were driving along Hwy 15 we saw a small sign that read Valley of Fire next right.  The map showed it as a loop that would take us off the highway a bit and then merge back on.  We took it.  Off across the flat and mostly lifeless desert as it is just outside of Vegas.  We came across two men with scopes spotting mountain goats on the (not so distant now) rocky cliffs and crags.  The road ahead was no longer straight - it curved right and then left many times as we gained elevation and from the beige sand  bright red rocks arose with a peculiar beauty.  Around one final curve and we were there...the Valley of Fire.  It was gorgeous, awe inspiring really, to see the massive red rock formations that had been there for thousands of years.  Solid.  Grounded. 

We stopped.  To my amazement there was actually a campground here in this remote desert location with more than a  few campers there for a visit.  I had to check out such an unusual place and to my surprise when I stepped out of the car it was completely silent there.  I don't know what I expected really, but certainly not silence.  The only sound was the wind creating a musical backdrop as it blew through the various openings within the formations surrounding us.  I breathed deep and let the stability of this place seep in.  It was good.  About a hundred yards away I could see stairs that led to a platform on one of the rock faces.  We were to discover it led to petroglyphs left by other visitors to this place 4,000 years ago.  Perhaps they had spent time in the very same camping area cut out by nature as a refuge from the elements in the barren desert.  I couldn't help but wonder if the person who left their mark upon those ancient rocks had sat there and breathed deep like I had a few minutes earlier.  If maybe, they too were able to gain stability while they rested there and prepared to move forward in their journeys across the desert.

It's back to real life for me now.  Only a few shorts weeks left before Christmas.  I haven't forgotten my stop at the Valley of Fire. I have worked at finding that same stabilizing effect in other more daily places around me.  As with all things "Peaceful" I do have to work at it a bit.  Here is a sampling of what has given me more sure steps as I move forward through this often chaotic season... a moment at the Thanksgiving table with friends sharing the things they were grateful for, the fog lifting over the flats near the Sound in the early morning hours, the warmth inside my car on a very cold day, a live nativity - quiet and simple, my Christmas tree (not even decorated yet) and the promise of a few weeks of twinkling lights in my living room.

The answer to the question  "I can't do what anymore?" I found sitting amongst the Red Rocks in Nevada.  I can't accomplish all of life's demands without something to hold on to for balance.  There are things within our reach to grab hold of for stability and strength when life seems to be spiralling out of control.  Too often as we move forward with all the best intentions we let go of the very things that keep our feet grounded for the journey along what is often a bumpy path.  Some of these things are grand and physically tangible - like my red rocks last month.   More often however, they are simply moments that touch our inner spirit. Those are the ones we often fail to recognize as essential, the ones we more readily set aside, and the ones that in reality are within our reach on a daily basis.   During this grand season of Faith, this season of all things Peaceful...reach out and grab hold.

When you do I'm sure you'll recognize Peace giving your hand a little squeeze. 

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