In the last two weeks I lost my iPod, my apple’s hard-drive, my printer/fax followed by light flashes in my left eye, my dog’s life.
The road has been bumpy, but I have strength garnered from the wilderness. There is a message: If I can learn to detach from the technology and embrace the Wilderness I will become whole.
In the aftermath of my losses came the silver lining— the remarkable timing of an invitation to Canyon de Chelly, the home of my now one-month-old Wilderness Fast, and to a Kinaalda Ceremony on Black Mesa. The Call of the Wild.
I was surrounded by four generations of Navajo in their wilderness-laden homeland. No electricity, no running water. A 26-mile long dirt road took us up to Black Mesa’s pinon, juniper, wandering Ravens and circling Hawks.
I drank up the Beauty Way. I watched the Beauty Way in action personified in the great grandmother (of the maiden of the Kinaalda) of the clan who, at age 90, has only traveled twice to Santa Fe, who has held on to her knowledge of plants for the Black Mesa community and avoided learning English. She has a peace in her that is palpable. She is one with the wilderness. She has not adopted the alienation that the collective unconscious is offering.
My soul was sad and stressed from all the losses. Yet, from the wilderness came words of forbearance and inspiration. To the young woman embracing her Kinaalda ceremony, her great Uncle shared with her words from the Beauty Way, transmuted by modernity, Indian Boarding Schools, and colonization, all molded into one and shared out under the Arizona Sunshine surrounded by Navajo faces, Lamb stew, Fry Bread, Pinon Trees and a cluster of clan members and rez dogs. I took in this wilderness wisdom like a dry arroyo takes in water:
1) Other people on earth must learn how to learn to be with other and to be as positive as possible
2) People live by laws and should obey them, understand these laws and you will be okay. These are the underlying values in a democracy allowing you self-determination but don’t take it too far. Say what you want, but learn how to control yourself so you are acceptable to the society.
3) Think before you speak. Don’t put your mouth into action until your brain is engaged. Watch what you think about because later that will be what you take action upon. The actions, in turn, become your habits! Your habits become your character. Your character is reflected in the “social mirror,” this is how people think of you in their minds, when you are not in view. People use this social mirror to size you up.
4) Destiny: What do you want to accomplish? Your thoughts and dreams become your behavior and in the end this is how your dreams are realized!
As the ceremony ended, the fire’s embers cooled, the Kinaalda cake was wrapped and distributed, the chairs, and tables broken down and 30-some odd clan members departed, we took our 26-mile drive down Black Mesa, heading through Rough Rock and out to Chinle where we hunkered down for the night.
The next morning just as the first rays of sunshine rose to meet the canyon walls, I was running to the east. I was bringing in the Beauty Way, taking in the beauty of the standing horses at the Canyon’s entrance and stands of proud fall’s yellow Cottonwoods. I ran along the road which rises above the Canyon toward Spider Rock. My eyes fell into the Canyon that had held me for one week for my fall Wilderness Fast. I felt the echoes of strength and remembrance of the secret strength of the Anasazi who held this land sacred centuries ago. I recalled the wisdom of the wilderness I had slept in and wandered in the month before. I grew quiet and contemplative and my heart welled. This land, this wilderness is my stronghold, my inspiration, my anchor… my anchor to Walk in Beauty before Me, Walk in Beauty behind Me. I walk in beauty in my thoughts, in my heart, always in Beauty.