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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"...And Beyond"

"Thin place" is how 20th century reviver of the Iona Abbey in Iona and founder of the Iona Community, George MacLeod described Iona, Scotland - a place where the temporal and eternal meet, the visible and invisible mingle.  - from One Eternal Presence, Sabbatical - Oban and Iona

Box Canyon at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico is a thin place. To get to Box Canyon you hike up a gently graded stream bed that is easily crisscrossed. The farther up stream you go the larger the rocks in the bed become as the mesa walls get closer and higher. After climbing over and through one final stand of bolders you are in Box Canyon.  

It is a natural cathedral with high concave walls that arch overhead framing a circular section of sky above.  Except for the sound of trickling water from several places in the wall, the silence encompasses you.  There is a large bolder with a flat top near the center of the canyon floor serving as a natural alter.  It is truly a place where the temporal and eternal meet, the visible and invisible mingle.  Once you get there you don't want to leave.

About half way up the trail to Box Canyon, before the mesa walls become steep and narrow there is another trail marked with a sign:  "To Upper Camp and Beyond."

This trail is winding and steep and goes to a natural "campsite" several hundred feet above Box Canyon.   "...And Beyond" goes even higher to the lower levels of Mesa Montosa, which on its top is close to two thousand feet above the trail head to Box Canyon.  From "...And Beyond" looking back down on Box Canyon (which by the way you can't really see) what you see is an ancient river bed winding down a valley until it comes to a drop off that was once a waterfall. It becomes evident that Box Canyon cathedral was once the plungepool for that waterfall.

My observation here is simple:  from "...And Beyond" what we had thought and experienced as eternal becomes more temporal and what was invisible to us before is now more visible.  From "...And Beyond" we discover a different "eternal" and "invisible" - another thin place.  That is until the next "...And Beyond." 

When was the last time you explored "...And Beyond?" 

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