"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Monday, July 28, 2014


Standing at the sink of my bathroom, surrounded by treasures I've collected over the years that speak beauty and love and warmth, toothbrush in hand, I smile at the face in the mirror. I close my eyes. Open them again, but only the eyes of my heart this time.

I'm standing on the bank of the Colorado River. Toothbrush in one hand, GCW mug in the other. The water is quietly lapping at my feet, but just a small distance away rushes and roars into a rapid we'll be starting our day with. The air is feathers on my skin. My feet sink into silt that soothes even as it holds and will make me work to get out of when I'm done here.

Most of the camp is still asleep, or just beginning to stir. The guides whose turn it is to cook breakfast turned on the blasters a bit ago (my alarm clock most mornings) to make the coffee. I smile at the memory of the morning I was up early enough to watch them make coffee: put large stainless steel bucket of water on blaster (a larger rocket-launcher looking burner); bring to a boil; add a pound of ground coffee; stir; walk away to let steep; pour through a strainer into the dispenser. The call "Coffeeeeee!" is the official alarm for the camp.

For now I feel like I have the whole canyon to myself. The sun is just beginning to paint the world above me in colors I'm certain come straight from God's own mind. At the bottom of the canyon, where morning is still a promise, gray softens the grandeur. As I perform the simple task of brushing my teeth, I am more whole and connected to life than I knew it was possible to be. No worries nag at me. No problems kept me awake in the night. No plans spin complicated webs in my head.

I am simply here.

I woke up this morning with a few inches of foam and an open sleeping bag separating me from the sand. Walt, still clinging to sleep by my side, missed the bats swooping overhead and the first call of the canyon wren and the first blush in the east. I got up to pee at the edge of the river, claiming a small bit of privacy while everyone else slept, and returned to our bed to find Walt awake. We lay side by side, holding hands, marveling at our presence together in this magical place. Marveling at our ability to not only manage but also thrive on the rigor of the days. The blasters told us the camp would be wide awake soon, so we got up to claim the quiet of a canyon morning for ourselves.

And now I am here, my feet bathed in the waters of the Colorado River, brushing my teeth. This moment is enough. I'm not thinking about what rapids we'll run today, or what new sights will take my breath away, or about the guides who make me wish I was 40 years younger so I can be them. I'm not thinking about the food which tastes better than any food I've eaten. I'm not thinking about the 22 other passengers, all of whom I love in the way you love people you share a sacred experience with. I'm not thinking about the new friendship I hope will survive in the Rim World. I'm not thinking about how I look. I'm not thinking about home or school or books. I haven't read a word since day one on the river (and it will turn out I don't read anything until we're out of the canyon). I'm not thinking at all, and my brain, once it gets over the shock, is deeply relieved to rest.

I am simply here. In this one perfect moment.

I open my eyes, back in my home. A place I love. The man I love is somewhere in the house, his presence always a comfort. Toby sleeps on the bed we've recently vacated. Bunkie does laps in the kitchen. Summer stretches languidly before me. And yet I feel homesick. For the place that was my home for a day short of two weeks. For a time my heart was fully open. For a river and a canyon and a state of being it seems I've spent my whole life searching for.