August 31, 2005

Reflection



In the summer, I try to cut myself off from the world of politics, from newspapers and television, from events happening outside my home. It's a well-needed break for someone like me who tends to react with emotion to all the tragedy in the world. Summer, I've always thought, is a necessary time for rest and relaxation and rejuvenation. Time to connect with the landscape, time for reflection.

Fourteen days in the canyon gave me a chance to forget about all that was happening in the world: the war in Iraq, the Bush administration's continued assault on the environment, and the endless ways in which sexism, racism, and homophobia continue to dominate the culture we live in. Well, maybe I didn't completely forget about these things, but it was wonderful to spend days just hiking, rafting, and absorbing all the beauty around me. Isolated as we were, we had no way of knowing what was going on in the country or the world, no way of seeing beyond the breath-takingly beautiful landscape we were travelling through. For two weeks, I lived in a community of fifteen like-minded people, many of us wanting a break from the politics that make us angry.

It is difficult now to read about the devastation in New Orleans, to surf blogs and read about what is going on in the country. One of my favorite students from last semester, who was commissioned the day after graduation, has been training all summer and gets shipped to Iraq this week. Tonight I watched television again, the local news, to see the story about a local boy, a young man who went to high school with my niece, who was killed yesterday in Iraq. He was 23 years old. I am trying desperately to keep the peace of the canyon inside me as I listen.

16 comments:

Rana said...

I, for one, am grateful for your posts. They are like a beautiful island of peaceful sanity - thank you.

timna said...

your visuals are sharing that peace with many people. your poetic posts allow us that moment of connection while you take us momentarily to the places you've been.

BrightStar said...

I think it's wise practice to take time out from the world.

Julie said...

I just stopped by after visiting another blog where Katrina was the topic of the day. Your photo calmed me right down -- temporarily, anyway.

ccw said...

Your blog is a wonderful respite from the horrors on TV. Thank you!

peripateticpolarbear said...

I am trying desperately to keep the canyon....
perfection again.

Ianqui said...

Keep the peace of the canyon inside. Yes, I'll try that.

Friday Mom said...

I've returned to your photos a couple of times today, just for the purpose of being reminded of something peaceful and beautiful. The water of the canyon, wild yet bounded and controlled, seems comforting in light of the destructive forces of the water covering New Orleans.

dag said...

Follow your own rhythms. Your page is full of spaciousness and peace thank you.

...Art and Vipassana Buddhism help me maintain a connection to my nature when I begin to drift from it.

You inspire me to go west and see that side of the country.

(Boston, MA)

Lilian said...

Oh, I can't really begin to say how I *love* your pictures :) I went to the Grand Canyon two years ago, and I couldn't stop thinking how it should be to go down there. When you said you were going to do this trip, I couldn't wait to read about it. It's been worth the wait, as everyone's saying.

Oh, and about the previous picture - I don't think you'd be trying to shield yourself from the water, you'd be the one enjoying it fully. Your fuzzy image under the water reminded me a bit of your daughter's picture from the other day (even with her eyes covered and all).

Danny said...

Can I come with you next time?
I never really wanted to go to the Colorado River until reading your posts & seeing your pictures. I have, however, spent much time backpacking in the Sierras of California, and have even eaten prickly pear fruit. Next time, I'll have to make them into a margarita :-)

Songbird said...

jo(e), these photos and your writing remind me of a song recorded by Judy Collins 15 years or so ago, I think taken from a Celtic prayer, but the line coming into my mind over and over again is "Deep Peace of the running wave to you." Thank you for these moments of deep peace.

halloweenlover said...

Beautiful, Jo(e). These are such calming pictures. It is a feeling we are all looking for.

Dr.K said...

I know what you mean. The door that briefly opened me to an awareness of the all-over presence of the Great Spirit threatens to close under the pressure of money, status, work, disaster, TV wars, politics, postmodern academia, square gray houses lined up in old soybean fields, etc., etc., blech, blech, blech. What a crap world we're trying to make. Rivers, forests and prairies remind us of what's more important, but I can't seem to get many other people to understand it--some of my students seem to, so that's definitely something. They're young and open. I asked someone, a wise, calm, Indian elder type, how to do that, how to get the world to listen and save itself, and he seemed puzzled by such a weird question. "Take care of yourself," he said. "Pray, and cultivate your own peace. You can't force them, and when they're ready to open to the Great Spirit, they will. That's all." So, that's why it's good to turn off the TV, choose the blogs you read carefully, and cultivate that calm in the midst of the storm, because people with it tend to have an effect they're not often even aware of. Your visit to the canyon seems to be radiating some of that peace, and a lot of people are hungry for it. Canyons are good for things like that.

jo(e) said...

Thanks, K. You are right, as usual. It's so hard not to let the dominant culture destroy that peacefulness of spirit.

Running2Ks said...

You say it beautifully. I hope we can all find our inner peace.