In these years since my healing I have asked of every person I have met, every song I have heard (whether it be from bird or man), every place that I have been, every book that I have read, every breeze that I have felt, “What can you teach me about my nature, about the nature of life, of love, of God?” (This sentence contains some hyperbole or as they say, poetic license, but it is essentially true.)
Those who knew me as a child and as a young man tell me that these questions have always been a part of my character, but only after my healing did I become conscious of this character. Only in finding did I seek to understand. Only in experiencing did I yearn to experience more.
Some time before the healing, I read Loren Eiseley’s book, UNEXPECTED UNIVERSE. It moved me then, and it moves me yet today. Eiseley may not have been the first to show me the mustard seed (Matt. ), but he certainly watered it, cultivated it, and just as certainly did it spring forth a few years later. I will share more about Eiseley and his influence on me in the third section of this book.
In the last autumn before the new millennium I went to the Grand Canyon to ask it these questions. While there I heard the plaintive sounds of the native flute. I saw the eagle soar high above the canyon walls. I heard the words “beautiful! peaceful! and awesome!” uttered by a thousand tongues in the language of people from the four corners of the globe. I heard the stories about forgotten people who lived in the canyon walls centuries ago; people who left behind a few relics and wall art. I heard stories of adventure, of daring feats by those early settlers, explorers, and scientists; those who, in the latter half of the nineteenth century ran the rapids, explored the caves, discovered hidden valleys, and climbed the ancient walls.
I heard about the five million who come to visit each year, most with camera in hand who look with awe from the rim to the canyon below. Many (over twenty thousand a year) do more then just look. They go within to explore, to seek knowledge about out earth, to ride the rapids, and to enjoy the silence.
This was my third trip to the canyon. Each trip has been different. The first trip was one of awe. The second was one of enjoyment and the third of inspiration. On the second trip I was privileged to witness a wedding being conducted near the canyon’s wall. The classical music for the occasion was played by a string quartet. The time of the wedding was sunset that is one of the most beautiful moments of the day. Everything, including the weather, seemed perfect.
On this third trip I sat and listened to the silence of the canyon. I saw its shadows and its changing hues. I felt its gentle breeze and I said, “What can you tell me about my nature, about the nature of life, of love and of God.”
The canyon replied, “I am ten thousand tabernacles in one. I am a lesson in earth’s long history. I am a place of life—see the squirrel, the worms, the birds, the trees, the brush, and the grass. I am a place of continual change. Like life itself, I will not be the same tomorrow or even a minute from now. I am the source of inspiration—go, bend your ear, and hear the music I have inspired; go, open your eyes, and see the art I have engendered; go, listen to the people, and hear what joy I bring; notice the diversity I attract.
“Now, notice the sun and realize without the sun I have no shadows; I produce no life; I attract no throngs of people; I have no beauty, only darkness. Without the sun, I inspire no music and engender no art. For more than a million years, each evening the sun and I have put together a spectacular show, certainly one of the longest running shows in the history of earth. But, without the sun, there is no show.
“Like me,” the canyon whispered, “you are nothing without the light. But the light of which I speak is not the sun. Unlike me, your light is not without but within. I am everything I can be because of the sun. Your earthly life, too, is dependent on the sun; but the true light of man is not the sun; it is the light of pure consciousness; it is the light referred to in the Gospel of John (John 1:9). It is that mystical sense referred to by Albert Einstein. It is the essence of man.”
And then, like a gentle but stern master, the canyon said, “Look deep into my bowels, into the canyons within the canyons and see my beauty.” After a long silence it said, “Go now, look into yourself; see your beauty and become conscious of your consciousness. For what you are looking for is what is looking.” As I walked away the words repeated themselves like a mantra:
“Go now and become conscious of your consciousness for what you are looking for is what is looking.”
Autumn gathers dusk in the light of day.
Wealthy waves of sunlight maintain their stay.
Lingering and languished they ignite the sky,
Seceding to darkness as dusk passes by.
What beauty these journeys to darkness share
With shoulders so broad, the rays that they bear
Ushering out the last light of the day
in a splendid, magnificent, heavenly array.