I went for an evening hike, a short one, yesterday. The path was familiar that led from a hilltop west of our house at the boundary of the Coconino national forest. I followed the path upwards and then over to the edge of a bluff. From there, I could look down and see a wide wash, dry at this time of year. I noticed for the first time that a slope of red earth ran upwards from it towards a highway bridge. I couldn't figure out how one could access this slope and follow it under the bridge to whatever land lay on the other side of the highway. It looked fairly close and easy to do, but I had often been down in the wash, walking and exploring, and never seen that slope that led under the bridge.
I continued walking along the bluff and down to the wash as I have so many times. Once in the wash, I followed it to a place where a great white sycamore tree stands, and a huge, long smooth log that lays along the ground like a giant serpent, with its one-horned head raised. It looks for all the world like the water serpent named Bololokong(I love that name!) of Yavapai legend. At this junction, the wash bends eastwards, away from the highway, and curves, like a snake, through the land for a longer way than I have ever followed it.
As I stood next to Bololokong, I glanced towards the setting sun. It lit up the tangle of dead wood, leaves, and branches nearby in a magical way, and I quickly snapped a picture, stepping away a bit to get a good angle. A moment later, the sun went behind the bluff overlooking the wash. I glanced to my right, stepped a few steps further in that direction for some reason, and lo and behold! I saw that the wash also curved and went south towards the highway. Aha! That was the way to that red slope I had seen from high up on the bluff. I took a picture of the highway bridge to which the wash led, barely visible through the trees.
It was too late to explore this new direction of the wash, but now I knew where to go. I'll let you know what happens when I go exploring.
As I reflect on this experience, I think of the many times in my life when I have wondered how to get somewhere, and have thought I had explored all my options, only to discover there was another one I hadn't even seen before. Often enough, this new option appears unexpectedly, at a moment when I am in the moment, more than usually awake and aware. Have you ever had that experience? It makes me realize that we usually have more untried paths and options than we imagine we do, and if we are aware, they will present themselves to us. I like to think that's one of the jobs of our "guardian/guiding angel"--to help us see new possibilities in unlikely ways and places.