Martin LeFevre: Sacred Canyon and Native Peoples
Sacred Canyon and Native Peoples
There is a canyon near here where, if you go with a humble heart and silent mind, you can feel the presence of ancient peoples who experienced the sacredness of the earth and universe, and thereby consecrated the land.
The city has had the good sense to set aside the canyon, to prohibit development from spreading into and despoiling it. And the road along the creek into the gorge is unpaved and bumpy, and closed two days of the week.
Acorns were a staple of the Native Americans who lived in this area, and grinding-holes in the granite can be found along the banks of the stream. High above the creek, now flowing full and cold during California's rainy winter season, are volcanic cliff-faces that form small caves under the rim. Gazing up at the drapery of rock evokes the mystery of nature, and of humans living in harmony with nature.
There have been times walking alone on the steep hillsides, without the noise of a single machine, when the sense of anonymous people living here is strong, people who felt as I feel today about the sacredness of the place.
Lacking romanticism and New Age attitudes about Native Americans, I nonetheless feel a kinship of joy in the beauty of this magnificent canyon with the people that lived here.
I know little about the people, but recently I learned, from a Native American who works for the fish and game department, that those who lived in the area before Europeans arrived and destroyed their way of life did indeed consider the canyon a sacred place. They not only dwelled along the banks of the stream, but also gathered from throughout the area to pray and perform their rituals.
Are the spirits of the good and great people who lived here truly still present? Did the land they love absorb their souls, so that anyone with sensitivity can feel something of them?
During meditation I sense them, and am sure their essence endures, waiting for living people who deeply care about the future of the earth and humanity.
This dark globalizing culture is not what the creator (or whatever name we give the intelligence of the universe) wants for human beings. There must be a revolution in people's minds and hearts that changes the course of humankind, or the human spirit will become as denuded as humans are making the earth.
The ice-cold creek flows by, and the sun, already low in the sky at mid-afternoon, is so bright reflecting off the water that I'm unable to look upstream. After many days of clouds, fog, and rain, the land is drinking in the sunshine, and the oak-studded and rock-strewn slopes seem to be greening before my eyes.
Looking upstream, a sheer, angular cliff stands guard, as it has for all the ages of man. I feel the intense beauty obliterating me, and it's mildly disconcerting. However, as at the end of one's life, to have a good death, the only thing to do is let go.
In the beginning there was nothing; in the end there will be nothing; and in the middle there is nothing. Thus, everything flows from and to nothingness, which holds everything in its embrace, at the beginning, middle, and end.
The cosmos has no pity except the pity that flows through human beings. The universe can only work through us, humans growing into human beings.
The walking dead have no relationship to anything, whereas awakening human beings share a kinship with all living and deceased peoples.
The sun slides behind the tree line and the air suddenly grows chilly. It's time to go.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.