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July 3, 2016
Laughter in the Canyon

The canyons and the mountains bend the rain. We scramble into a shallow cave, just enough to keep dry. Water travels through the washes, bringing the place to life. And just as quickly as it comes, it goes, some final mists cascading off of the tops of rocks; sporadic, bright little flakes of water falling all around.

As if I could handle any more beauty.

But some force seems to think I can. So the spectacles keep happening. I throw my head back and laugh. The cracks, ridges and grooves in the red rock breathe with water, and the cliff faces in the distance swirl and dance with the same breath. I lay my hand on the stone inside the cave. It’s trembling as much as I am. I am still laughing. I curl up into a ball and laugh. Mother Earth is laughing with me, I can tell. Everything is freshly illuminated, glinting miraculously.

A fountain of colors mushrooms up inside of me. Every burst of laughter that comes forth ends in a soft, relaxed, elated sigh. With each sigh I think I am finished laughing but they serve merely as brief pauses, places to catch my breath so I can begin again. I have a vision of a garden filled with all my sisters, winged and not, laughing and sighing in a beautiful chorus, because there is nothing else to do but laugh with creation. I know this garden is a place I have been before and this canyon is a reminder.

To my supreme amazement, the clouds begin forming arches, roughly to the North. Like an ephemeral cathedral ceiling in the sky, the clouds resemble an enormous passageway, and I have no doubt it is being used as such, and this desert is some kind of landing pad for invisible beings from other worlds. Then a rainbow forms, stretching up to reach the arch ceiling. I am rendered breathless.

Photo by Kurt Larson

The sun is setting. The clouds hanging on the horizon reflect an enchanting variety of pinks.

As still as the desert may appear at first glance, it is anything but. I keep seeing little flutters out of the corner of my eye, and I look to see if it’s a bird’s wing, but they are simply swirls, near-invisible tornadoes rising up, energetic gyrations excited to expand upward, and the flutters I see are ecstatic moving points on each tornado. I giggle with delight at the way the desert dances.

We are walking towards a cluster of rock formations, hundreds of feet high. From a distance, this grouping of rocks looks like it forms a perfect circle, an ancient council of red stone elders, bowing their heads in deliberation. As we grow closer, the rocks refract into a new pattern, become less circular, scatter. We pick one nearby that has a shallow slope and scramble up the side. I find a nook to lie in. Wearing his sweater, hood up, I sink, allow myself to become heavy in the crevice.

The sky has arranged itself to create the appearance of an enormous, magnificent dome. An infinite, perfect, deep black directly overhead, both foreboding and welcoming, fades into a calmer indigo the closer it descends toward the horizon. The stars begin baring their friendly faces. Some of them hang so low I swear some of them have dropped down to dance atop the rocks. There is a distinct geometry among them, flowering and multiplying as more appear. Occasionally a plane blinking red and blue cuts across the deepening sky, sending ripples through the matrix, but the pattern quickly repairs itself, regaining stability.

My rollicking belly laughs have simmered down to a frothy inner laughter, silent, but still overflowing. The quietude is sterling, all-encompassing, infinite like the domed sky above.