I’ve been travelling around New Mexico and Arizona for the past couple of weeks. And the journey is not over yet. It’s our third trip to the southwest…the desert landscape has been drawing us back for several years now. Before that, it was Portugal – another arid climate.
There's a sense of desolation to the desert that pries open my heart and peels back the edges. I feel it every time I come here ... like I've been laid bare. Desert demands honesty. It demands wisdom and a deep reverence for the continuance and mystery of life. The wind blows, the sand shifts and something hidden is revealed.
During this trip, we visited Mesa Verde with its ancient pit houses, farming communities and amazingly complex cliff dwellings, towering hundreds of feet above the canyon floors. This site is an architectural timeline showing how generations of Ancestral Puebloan people evolved for 700 years, from 600 AD – 1300 AD.
We visited Chaco Canyon, a strange and wonderful crack in the earth surrounded by miles of empty desert that housed a community of ancient dwellings. It appears to have been a mecca to early Puebloan people. For centuries people came and went from this canyon, building their homes on the same sites of earlier civilizations. This cycle continues today, as our generation is drawn into this canyon, imagining how others lived before us.
Then, there was Rock Art canyon, decorated with over 3,000 Anasazi petroglyphs in all manner of design, crafted over the centuries. This canyon had obviously drawn people time and time again…the water here never runs dry. I ran my fingers over the designs and stories etched by people who possessed no written words, but still wanted their voices to echo long after they were gone. I could understand this need. I, too, want to leave my mark.
Perhaps this is why the southwest pulls me in. I am struck by the continuum of life, how history repeats itself, how people are drawn to certain landscapes, over and over again, like flocks of birds migrate to the same places year after year; like animals trod the same pathways.
I believe the land speaks to us, it calls to us, and should we desire real wisdom and honesty, we only need to pause long enough to listen.