Finisterre: Canyon Impact

A pledge to keep walking beyond where I have once called home, onto where I am challenged to change, reconcile, surrender, and create in ways I hadn’t imagined.

I’m still feeling a little inadequate in writing about my trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon for eight days. Perhaps it is not wanting to disturb the resounding stillness it impregnated into my soul. Those towering, layered edifices of ancient stone–citadels, temples, cathedrals, domes, spires. Solid, enduring, holding, captivating, tempting me to apprehend this version of time, this ability to wait, this allowing.

Paradoxically those very walls aren’t solid or impregnable. Slowly, every day, bits and pieces are falling and sliding down from the heights. Water is molding them, wearing them down, smoothing them into sand. And in contrast to the silent stones, the river is never silent here. It rages in rapids and riffles and rumors. It is always speaking of change and movement and dynamism, digging the canyon deeper, revealing more. In this 277-mile canyon, these paradoxical forces co-exist–the deep silence and the raging sound, the stark solidity and the steady streaming.

It soothes me to know that like the Canyon, I can be a paradox. Part of me strong and soaring, part of me aging, slowly being worn down. I can be loud, and I can be so quiet. I can rage and I can laugh. I can be so judgmental, and I can be so kind. I can be fearless, and I can be afraid. Reasonable and illogical. Egotistical and soulful. And it all is okay. It all can fit in the canyon just as it is. So much of my life has been either shamed by those pieces I didn’t like or trying to fix them. Not allowing myself to just be human.

I got angry on this trip. A group of the fellow rafters were ready to party loudly after we made camp. Not one night but every night. I was tired. I wanted to sleep, not join a toga party. On the third night, I was annoyed. On the fourth night, I shouted for them to be quiet, and judged them as less than me. I wanted to feel patience and equanimity and allowing. But I didn’t. I let myself feel the anger and fatigue and self-righteousness. It was true in the moment. And later, it wasn’t.

I will never be perfect. Such a relief now to know this in the last decades of my life. No more trying to attain something. I wish to just be myself, accepting all the parts of who I am and all that unfolds in my life. Then I’ve opened the space to be changed by grace, to be molded like the water molds the canyon, to be held like the presence of those high canyon walls.

“Every time we catch ourselves getting reactive; every time we catch ourselves acting as if the outcome of a situation has the authority to name who we are, we are to take a deep breath and remind ourselves–it isn’t true. That there’s this hidden, unfelt, deep, abyss-like center in which we’re being unexplainable sustained in the midst of the circumstances.” James Findlay

I am such a small speck of sand, such a moment in the 14 billion years of our universe’s history. The Canyon has gently guided me to be humble, to take my place in time– with an acquiescence to simply be with what is. It is such a place of grandeur– and so am I. So are you. Take a breath.

2 thoughts on “Finisterre: Canyon Impact

  1. Beautiful, Marcia. Perfect for me right now. I am reminded of my own journey through the Grand Canyon, my experience of “resounding stillness” on Bardsey Island, and my present journey through life. Thank you. Rashmika


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