Circle –

___Ripple Rock

___I soon found a special site deep within a unique and rather remote area north of Hanksville, now being considered for National Monument status, called the San Rafael Swell.

___ At my site, I was thrilled to find a large area of ripple rock. This is slate sandstone that actually has embedded or recorded in the rock surface the ripple pattern from when that sandstone was laid down at the bottom of a lake or shallow sea area. Something happened that covered it up and locked in that pattern of waves that the water caused on that particular day, perhaps 60 to 70 million years ago!


___Now, after being buried for all that time, it is being slowly exposed here in the parched desert, an echo of water from ages ago. What fascinates me about the ripple rock is that the image preserved in it represents something relatable to a human timescale.
___ In most geologic forms, we are looking at shapes that reflect what happened to the specimen over millions of years, but here is a rock that has a flash-frozen moment of time, like a fossil, that I can relate to. I can almost hear the lapping of the waves as they washed over that sand on that day so long ago. I suppose some things human (Pompeii comes to mind) are recorded in similar fashion, but surely most of what we do will never be so preserved.
___ How many lives and stories and wondrous events of nature have happened on this planet over the millions upon millions of years that were not so fortunate to be recorded in a stone panel by some freakish chance? Sometimes as I watch a particularly wonderful sunset, it occurs to me that there must have been billions of such beautiful sunsets over the history of this earth that went, well, unappreciated.

___I wonder if a dinosaur ever paused to look up in hazy curiosity at a red-orange sky?


___The Circle

___My site chosen, I marked the cardinal directions with large stones and placed myself in the very center. I felt relaxed and alert at the same time, and I began at once to feel somewhat distant from my self. Then it was evening, and then it was the night.

___I came to my medicine circle with a desire to receive a "vision" ; it was a vision-quest. At first, I thought that my expectation of nothing was what I received, and I felt a little wistful. I cannot say that I received a vision that is identifiable to me as a vision. Perhaps I needed more time or a more remote and strenuous circumstance. Only after I had finished my time in the circle, though, did I realize that I had received something after all. I had received a healing.
___This healing came in the shape of sleep. I began the ceremonial time at midday, with the desert sun directly above my head. Almost upon the instant that I entered my circle and acknowledged the beauty before me, behind me, to each side and above and below me (in the Navajo tradition), I fell unexpectedly asleep on my little mat - a speck in the desert - with my feet dangling in the dirt and my eyes and nose within an inch of the tiny shards of slate and the red-brown soil of the desert floor.
___ Whenever during the hours of the sunbright day I would emerge from a dream, I could examine the microcosm within my view. Every nuance of the small rocks, seeds, ants, and cast off thorn stems that I would otherwise press under foot were displayed with enormity and import. Then, I could raise my eyes and see Mount Ellen, over ten thousand feet high, lofting in the pale distance many miles away to the south. Which view is bigger, more real, more important, I wonder?
___ A powerful and active sleep then reclaimed me, taking me away to mysterious inner worlds.

___ It may be that the thing we ask for is not what we truly need, but in the process of asking, the universe supplies us with what we do need and so heals us and makes us whole again. This is good medicine. I did not anticipate nor ask to sleep through much of my time in the circle, but I did wish to be a better person and, perhaps, to touch the ineffible, or at least see its reflection in the sands. This strangely powerful sleep came to me as if the universe looked down upon my small form and stroked and touched me with the antidote to my harried modern life.
___ Looking back now, it is perhaps true that I did not "stop the world" in don Juan's magical sense, but my time in the circle did make me stop my world for a time - a time that let me listen and take stock of my own moment-to-moment motivations. It levered open a mental space for assessment and for the sensing of new or previously subdued emotions and thoughts. This, too, is a valuable gift and one not easily achieved by more mundane means.

Upon Awakening at 2 a.m.

___ With my eyes fresh from sleep, like the naive gaze of a child, I look out at the world beyond my simple bed. The dry air is delicious. The moonlight is delicious. The sigh of the soft night breeze is delicious. The stars are delicious. The backlit clouds are delicious.
___ One thin veil of cloud has a fish's shape and a star shining through it, just so placed to be its bright eye. The spirits of the night sky are watching me sleep.
___ The Freemont Indians would have understood.


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