The Smallest Piece Begins with Pilgrimage

Deliberate wandering feels like a waltz. Movement with resonance. No agenda but the senses are deeply attuned. While life dances into death and death swirls back into life, I observe. Inhale. I make a move. Exhale. This is what the living do. 

desert pilgrimage

The desert's dance is slow; quiet. Things quiver here. Subtle. Things settle––like shoulder blades softening down the back when a body exhales. Movement is unseen in the big picture. Erosion is a micro whirlwind of change––you have to get down on your knees to watch it unfold. Sand moves down toward the river basin, and the river rubs up against the base of stone canyon walls. Opening. Widening.  

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Ann Whittaker, January 2017

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Ann Whittaker, January 2017

Sand. Mud. Wind. Weather. Sun. Birdsong and predators. 

The desert will pretend that there's not much going on. She is mysterious and solitary. Move along, she says. Nothing to see here. Because there's so much to see of life and death and wildlife communities basking in the shade while reptilians bask in the open sun adorned in camouflage skin. You won't see much of this life unless you are still and quiet and profoundly patient. 

Last evening I saw my first canyon wren.

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Ann Whittaker, April 2017

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Ann Whittaker, April 2017

Sacred because I am often caught in awe––words are absorbed into the deep silence and thoughts are only now. The river curves. The wren amuses itself with its own voice. Dead winter leaves quiver on a branch that has fallen to the mud on the riverbank. 

Pilgrimage sounds like hyperbole. I am simply standing, walking on paths available to all. Witness, too, is hyperbole. And yet. And yet it dances me to something essential. Essence. The smallest piece. 

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