“We must Pray for those who cannot”
Average Gas: $2.90/gal
Miles Driven: 1300
Slept: 3 air bnbs, a campground
A trip across the US would not be the same without a peak at the Grand Canyon. I decided to go the roads less traveled, and explore the North Rim and East Entrance. I spent limited time at either, but the North Rim held invaluable experience.
There is a trail called The Uncle Jim Trail. Since I am away from my Uncle Jim in a time when he needs support, I decided to go on this 4.8 mile loop as a sort of prayer for him. The only thing I failed to consider before beginning: there was a blazing fire (currently under control) that created air thick with smoke. I have lung issues that are very sensitive to smoke.
He has always lived a life with the example to do what is best for you and yours. So while I began the steep trail with every intention of having it be prayer for him, about a mile and half in, my lungs were heavy, leaving a metallic taste in my mouth. So I turned around, knowing he would be proud of me.
The North Rim didn’t feel like enough of the iconic Grand Canyon, though, so I went to the East Entrance, where there were far more tourists and typical views.
Recently, I saw a map of languages across the US, and Navajo seems to be one of the only native languages going strong. After traveling through the AZ portion of Navajo Nation, I can see why. There are many historically preserved spots and monuments, all with plaques offering historical insights.
Canyon de Chelly is still ran by Navajo rangers, and police, as is the Navajo bridge. The bridge crosses a canyon surrounding the Colorado River where the Navajo people would traditionally cross, and has an amazing look-out and souvenir shop. Canyon de Chelly has many look-outs show casing old Pueblo homes, battle grounds, and other various points of interest.
Between the two are several shops with handmade Native American goods, and different cuisines. While it was sad to see how impoverished the area is (the majority of housing was trailers, modulars, and those “tiny homes”), I also had to recognize that this judgement of impoverished came from my deep lack of understanding. I spent a day driving around Navajo Nation, and have to say everyone I stopped and spoke with was filled with kindness, stories, and general friendliness. It would have served me to remain here longer.
Sedona: Let go, Let flow
“Ah-hooooo!” The crowd howled as the full moon rose high in the sky above Cathedral hill.
“Ah-hooo!” and then silence. Everyone stood and sat in stillness and watched it illuminate the sky from a higher point. And then began the celebration.
The steady beat of drums, the motion of arms, feet, and hips as everyone found their rhythms to the drumming. The scent of sage and marijuana filled the fresh Arizona air. Circles of massage and people humble-bragging about vows of celibacy, discussing tales of change, and everyone seeking to honor the energy of the moon. The warmth of the ground betrayed the night’s secret of the hot hot day. I sat on the side, enjoying the energy around me, content being a type of voyeur, yet forming a new friendship at the same time.
I sat beside a lady who was flown out to Sedona by her cousin, to break her away from a routine that no longer served her. She was nervous, as was I, and it was perfect because that meant we both needed a safe friend. So we sat there together, alternating between chatting and silently watching the motion all around. Our host, friend, landlady came up, and we moved to the other side of the cliff to meditate. Up walked a man with a camera in tow, taking a photo.
“Look at this photo of Jupiter I just took. See that light over there between the split cliffs? That’s Jupiter.”
I lit up. Jupiter is my planet, and the name of my car, and the planet responsible for this leap of faith (ask if you’d like to know more, or are curious as to how this affects you). The picture was super clear, as the camera was a special one. This man and I began talking, and it ended in an invitation to join in a sweat lodge the following day. Of course I joined.
The following day led my new friend and I on a hike to the Boynton Vortex, and a restful afternoon of lounging in a recreation area. We chatted about everything, from childhood, to experience, to schools, to dreams. For the first time of this entire trip, life felt pretty regular–in the best way possible! It was an afternoon of not being separated by newness, but rather bonded by it. It sparked within me excitement for what lay ahead, and I know it affected her as well, as she was all smiles and hugs when it was time to bid adieu.
That night I attended the sweat. Excited, confused, unsure. There were about 12 people there, and as it turns out, the man I met by happenchance is well known worldwide–people flew in from Japan just to meet him at this sweat!
I sat in the yard outside of the tent, looking at the crystals which rested centered in display, listening to the cicadas (a rare treat for a Californian), soaking in the remaining warmth of the day, concentrating of releasing the stress in my shoulders (caused by being far from the comfort and familiarity of home), politely chatting with anyone who wanted to speak with me.
We all crawled into the lodge, after bowing down to mother Earth, that moon still bright over head. People of all ethnicities, genders, and sizes crawled in. Sitting in meditation, taking in the new sensation, it hit me: I’m here healing with a community of strangers. But a community all the same, as we are all there seeking the same purpose.
We took turns, clockwise, stating our intent and what drew us there, as well as what we would like to pray to the four elements for. Everyone had an interesting take and intent. Our leader spoke to each of us throughout the ceremony, creating community as the heat, steam, and different scents steadily grew.
Tears welled during the prayer circle. One lady, whom I had spoken with before the sweat (she had a similar toe ring, but had 5 lines carved in hers–one line for each of her children), spoke a prayer that seemed to vibrate through my center. “Bless, bless, bless, I pray for the healing of all the fathers. For the fathers of my children and for the fathers all around the world. May they find the healing they need in this world and may we find forgiveness for them. Bless, bless, bless.” Her voice was soft, airy, her appearance divinely feminine like Aphrodite. After the sweat, she would say to me “we must join the sweats and pray for those who cannot.” During the sweat, I would tear up, my face glistening with a mixture of sweat and tears, but salt water nonetheless. A good sweat makes us harder to define separate from the creatures of the sea.
After about 2 hours, we exited the lodge, our swimsuits drenched with so much sweat, it was like going for a swim. The air now felt cold as I peered through the telescope at Grandmother Moon, trying to make kind conversation, but now deep within my own mind.
I drove to my airbnb for the night, to meet someone who had much perspective (from a decade of experience) to offer on the lifestyle I am currently living. This conversation resparked in the morning, and a mixture of the introspection catalyzed by the sweat and the hours of perspective he shared, I now feel ready to further let go of fear and dive further into how I envisioned this lifestyle is best spent.
On the way out of town, I stopped by the water store and stocked up. Another step to preparedness. What a blessing Sedona has been. Sedona has been good to me and I’d like to believe I left behind some radiant energy to touch others miles after I’m gone.
Thank you so much for continuing to follow this journey! As I inch along, I am learning more and more about just how little I know about life outside of my comfort zone–and it is invigorating! It is also another way of confronting what I bring to the table, how people act/react to my presence, and what brings joy. This is a trip of a lifetime not only because it is fun, but because it is catalyzing growth and encouraging me to embrace it all–strengths, weaknesses, perceptions–and find a way to work with that. The more I let go of, the stronger I feel. The more I see, the more humbled I become. Letting go of control and fear are very difficult, yet worthwhile tasks. At this point, it seems that the journey is my goal, and my dreams will fall in place en suite.
Thank you for following, and please feel free to reach out about anything. So much love and gratitude.