Devil's Garden

This is a postcard from a three-generation family vacation to southern Utah.

     Moving slowly, the injured ankle stuffed into a stiff boot, I walk into the Devil's Garden. My younger family has galloped off to the slickrock terrain of Delicate Arch; my elder family ventured with me only a bit and then retired to the comfort of the car. I'm alone. Slow footstep by slow footstep I walk between the fins of red sandstone rising through the earth, and come out into a high desert wonderland.
     Sand-sculpted rock shows no angles, just holes and arches and roundstone. This land dreams of water, knows it from memory, responds to the lightest touch of rain. The flow of ancient seas feels present in the eddies of wind against my skin. Time slips here. I feel it.

Pine Tree Arch,
Arches National Park
     A brazen blue flashes up from a juniper, and a Western bluebird leaps ahead of me followed by his more modest mate. I will see them again in my wanderings. Descending to Pine Tree Arch, I tuck into the protection of the sandstone walls to look out past the encircled pinyons. Over at Tunnel Arch, the only other person here asks if I think the sun will come back for her photo, and then gives up and leaves me to the silence.

     The “rawk rawk” of a raven comes in, and looking up, I see two, hovering together, swooping in the wind, playing. It looks as if they will fly though the high arch, but they peel off, one to skim the edge of the curved rock and touch-tag it before chasing after the other.
     I stand transfixed, watching. The ravens approach, as if I might be someone they know. We hold the space together with the wind, and when they move on, I begin my slow careful steps back to the trailhead.
     There is a grace that comes with the disruption of a Plan – a grace of Spirit. The disaster of the mashed ankle became the journey into the Devil's Garden. Grateful for this sacred landscape cached in my heart, I finally climb into the backseat of the car waiting in the parking lot.