We put our rafts in the water in the sweltering heat of mid-morning in the Arizona summer. Two rafts, twenty five participants, four river guides. It was our first time on the Colorado River. The moment was exciting, full of possibility, and unfamiliar. We carried our belongings to the rafts, everything packed in heavy duty dry bags to protect them from the elements. We watched our four muscular and bronzed river guides load up the rafts efficiently and confidently. Two guys, two gals, strong as horses. We observed the others in the group, quickly figuring out who was with whom and where they were from. Watching, listening. We stood in our units, somewhat disconnected from each other, imagining our shared journey ahead.
Over the next six days we rafted 180 miles down the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon. Six days of wilderness, the hot sun above, the cold water below; precious water which flows down from the Rockie mountains and never reaches the sea. There was no electricity, no running water, no toilets, no showers. Just ourselves, camping each night on a different sandy shore along the river, cooking, eating, sleeping under the stars, and forging new bonds over the course of the week.
Human bonds. These people young and old, strangers on day one, quickly became friends. The nine young people, ranging in age from 10 to 19, moved together as one body. Whether searching for scorpions, playing bocce ball or breaking bread together, they formed a pack, often looking out for the older members of the group and anticipating their needs. We became one big family as the shared experience drew us closer.
Closer to the earth. Rafting through the canyon, descending through layer upon layer of rock into the earth's crust, I felt myself cradled by rock that is up to 2 billion years old. Sandstone, shale, limestone, granite, schist. Different shades of red, orange, brown, black, blue, green. Warm, comforting, radiating the sun's rays and energizing me. Day after day I would stare at the rock, imagining the ocean and sand dunes and rivers that once characterized this land, as well as the people and creatures that dwelled here. I felt their energy and lingering presence. It was a profound feeling of oneness with the earth, a deep connection with the land and the people who called this place home, a melting into time and space.
I left the Grand Canyon knowing that we are connected and we are one. There is no separation. What we do to the earth and to each other, we do to ourselves. May we come together to bring peace and healing to the earth and all her inhabitants.