Tuesday, October 27th
Chinle, AZ & Canyon De Chelly à Sky City & Acoma Pueblo
This was one of those epic days, soaring to the heights and depths and grinding against tiredness and the mundane details of moving the body to new locations, saying goodbye to one nation (Navajo lands) and praying for entry and welcoming into another nation (Acoma lands).
To start with, the group went to Canyon De Chelly at the White House Trail – around half opting to hike down into the canyon (600 ft elevation drop) and the others staying above on the rim, savoring the heights.
This canyon’s swerving red curved flowstones, caves, cagey junipers seemingly growing out of pure rock, a rock surface that sparkled with crystal at every moment, incredible red, brown, and dark grey cliff faces, a sublime stillness and quality in the air…this is a special place. As we walked down into the canyon, slowly people found little places they stayed at to enjoy the view, the air, the presence, to meditate or pray or just sit, and a few of us ventured to the bottom of the canyon floor.
At one point, I began the song “Grandmother I See You” from 90% down the canyon – to be echoed and responded to by Zaynab, halfway up the canyon, and then to my great surprise, a clear voice shone down from the canyon rim another verse – it was Maalika Denise, just a tiny itsy bitsy figure atop the canyon wall, singing down in answer – the three of us singing back and forth amongst the rocks, pines, grasses, and ravens – the song singing through the canyon resounding about us…it was a moment of pure magic.
Another moment – near the middle of the canyon was a particularly spectacular rock formation of red circular flowstones that formed a cluster of curving points. I knew I had to walk to sit on this particular stone formation (Onaje later got the same intuition) – and just as I arrived, I noticed blue colored lichen growing about the rocks that I hadn’t seen from afar, my pace slowed, prayer seeped into me and around me – and the Call To Prayer sounded, as Onaje sung it from above in the canyon. Another moment of sublimity washed over me, to kneel me in prayer on that rock formation, a seeming vortex of creation in the midst of the tall walled canyon, below it a drop of 90 feet to gorgeous meadows and trees and a dry wash.
The contrast of this ecosystem in the canyon floor to the aridity above…just magical.
There are too many moments to recount – passing a prayer pipe around a small pool of water on the canyon’s rim – smelling sweet pine sap – honoring the hardiness of plants that grow out of rock, spending time with a tiny hopping toad.
Thank you dear Canyon De Chelly – or Canyon Of Rock (in Navajo) – we are honored to set feet on you, to breathe your blessed airs – we were all shining after that morning out in an immense cathedral.
Lunch and picnic at Thunderbird Café, under soaring trees, admiration of the Navajo silversmith’s workmanship in their store, and a long tired busride to Acoma, where the hotel check-in was frustratingly tedious for our hungry and 8-days-traveled group.
An Acoma / Laguna family met with us this evening – connection through Grandmother Perhsali – who shared their beautiful stories and hearts with us after dinner for two sweet hours. Three generations were present! Particularly striking to me was the plea to the younger generations to never sell their land, to never get rid of it, and the beauty of Acoma Pueblo, where tomorrow we will visit – and their openness to tread both worlds, both Western and Traditional Laguna / Acoma culture.
They spoke also that in the prophecies of their people, they foretold people flying in the air, moving in shiny objects, and that the brown-skinned folk would be the ones to maintain the protection and care for Mother Earth – that they would maintain such a connection – and the Laguna continue to operate as best they can under this guidance, to care for her – that even with all her pain she still provides for all our food, bodies, water, air – is that not love?
Thank you new friends for your blessing, your prayers, and your sharing – you have graced us with your welcome to your lands, and we are so grateful.
Other moments – thinking to the future and what are we called to do next, to call ourselves?