I finished this pastel two days ago. When John saw it he said, "It looks like Machu Pichu!" There is a resemblance. I have seen this red rock mountain often on hikes I take in the seven canyons area near here, and I never made that connection--which goes to show how often we can miss what is obvious to others. And we see what they are missing. Clearly, many perspectives are likely to see reality more fully. It seems wise to value perspectives different than our own, rather than dismiss them, as happens too often in religious and political discourse especially, but also in personal arenas.
Here is the poem that came to me as I pondered this pastel:
Someone built a little "altar" at the edge of Dry Creek in an area I often go for my afternoon walk with our dog Leo.
It is just one small way of honoring a place, of showing a kind of reverent feeling for nature. When we are out here in Sedona, in such incredible beauty, it is easy to feel reverence and awe for the beauty and mystery and majesty of creation. But in everyday life, especially in urban settings, it is all too easy to see this great gift of God as simply a backdrop to our life, and to treat nature as an object, failing to realize how interwoven we are with all things in creation around us. What happens to it will happen to us. Our physical welfare, and yes, the welfare of our souls, depends upon out attitude towards and treatment of the places we live. How many ways can you, and I, think of to care deeply for and treasure the place where we live, and beyond?
Native American tribes of this area have ancient stories of how their remote ancestors emerged from the under-world into this world. One such story locates this place of emergence at the small sunlit hill in front of the mountains in this picture. I painted this pastel inspired by a picture I took of this scene, which John and I drive by every time we go from Sedona to the nearby town of Cottonwood. Here is my poem about it:
The first time I walked the Willow Loop Trail near here, I thought this structure was a barrier preventing my going further. I assumed it was a way of marking the end of the trail. So I turned around and retraced my steps back to the trail head. The next time I walked this trail, I was in a mood to continue. A closer look revealed this to be a horse gate, and I could easily wind my way through it to take the rest of the loop trail, which led me to an enchanted forest!
Huge old growth trees…a white moon hanging over a gorgeous white sycamore tree…a beautiful old stump-sculpture…a snake-branch…and much more. What a great metaphor for the way we often allow obstacles to stop us from going further on a pathway of life that might lead to wonders… And often what we thought was an obstacle was just a test of our determination to go forward. I am glad I kept going! (see pics below)