Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Boundaries One

Not all the trails in the Arches are clearly marked.

Sure the trail starts out like all of them do – very tourist friendly, much of it paved, some portions even conspicuous with handrails.

But that only gets you to the obvious view – the common sightseer spot. If you so dare, you can go beyond the basics, past the easy, ahead of the road most traveled, and get an eyeful of the less trampled vistas.

That means going past the visitor safety zone, behind the arches, and out of sight of the parking lot. And here the trails are not so clearly marked.

You are instructed to look for the cairns marking the passage. Cairns” is a fancy way of saying “pile of stones.” Of course, out here, everything is a pile of stones, so spotting a pile of stones marking a path through a pile of stones is easier said than done.

Just about when you are ready to acknowledge that you’ve been punked, you relax your eye and see the bigger picture – then the cairns come into focus, almost obvious as they mark the trail.

A bit further along, and even the cairns seem to have disappeared. Here you must go on faith – continuing in the direction the past stones sent you on, trusting that a bend would be signaled, that the feller that set the path wouldn’t forget to mark the turnings.

And when the path does divert, you pause and look for the signs. Sometimes you will see the cairns to the side, and change course.

Or maybe you will see markings of where the travelers before you sojourned, and entrust yourself to their path.

And every now and again, when a deviation seems too tempting or obvious, that little sign will appear.

“This is not a trail.”

No rebuke, no judgment; just a printed voice in the wilderness, a red board suggesting that if you want to be on the trail, this isn’t the place to be.

You pause at the top of a hill, having followed the spirit of the cairns through turn and a climb that didn’t seem like it would lead anywhere. Yet here you are, your breath sucked out by the view.

And you look behind you – the trail seems obvious from here. Looking back makes it clear, you haven’t been fooled by false divinations.

Nature piled into cairns; faith in motion; the signs of those who’ve come before; and the occasional reminder of what is not the trail.

Before leaving the paved path, you could understand why some folks would settle for the easy view.

But now, with eyes to see, you revel in the exquisiteness of intimate beauty.

Not all the trails are clearly marked.

And that is good.

Just my thoughts,


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