Friday, September 23, 2016

To Know: the Road Before Conditions

As anyone who knows me knows, I really don't like rain.

I sometimes feel like I should like rain (it's so peaceful, it's so relaxing, etc. etc.), but I just don't. I never have been able to appreciate this gloomier, starker side of Mother Nature- I am definitely one for sun. I only like rain if I can be inside in a bed listening to it (I quite like that, actually), or inside in a chair reading a book to it, or hearing it pitter-patter out the window while I gaze at it. 

So as you may be able to tell from the photos, I didn't get the ideal day to go to the Grand Canyon
Still, it was wow-inducing and amazing in its own way. In a way I was kind of lucky I caught it in this unique and hazy state. I'll definitely need to return to this place to see the whole 'canyon' part, and the day itself was a combination of 'awesome,' and 'testing my patience.'

Arizona has been triple-digit hot since I've been here, so I thought I'd have no problem camping and getting some stellar views of this beloved park. As it turned out, I had a little problem doing either. 

Monday night I camped in Flagstaff, and that was glorious: quiet, restful, alone in the woods with a book and a journal; a fine extension of an already relaxing day. Midway through the night came light rain- not a downpour, just the enjoyable pitter-patter of sound that I could hear comfortably from inside my warm, dry tent. 

I left for the Grand Canyon early, around 8 am, and drove in torrential rain to the South Rim- hoping and praying conditions might be okay by the time I got there (and actually also praying to get there, as the downpour just got scarier, and worse). 

Conditions never did improve, though I walked a few miles of the Rim Trail from South Kaibab Trailhead, thinking maybe the rain would let up. 

It definitely did not, and by the time I decided to head back to my car, I was sopping wet and cold, still hadn't seen an actual canyon view (white. clouds. everywhere.), and everything I was wearing and everything in my backpack was soaked from the rain that was coming in sideways.
For the few times I was able to pull my phone out and safely snap some pictures without it getting too drenched, there certainly was a lot of beauty to it. My experience there was sort of panged with feelings of solitude, quietness; a sort of hauntedness and gloominess that hung around and permeated the air. 

I found myself reflecting on a lot of things: the weather made me think back to my last rainy excursion in national park from April of 2015, in Olympic. In many important ways that trip catalyzed moving to Colorado, or at least planted the seed that adventure was important, and I thought about it (and that time in my life, and how much has changed) as I walked around, listening to the same rain.

Since the Grand Canyon is a huge tourist destination, you also see lots of people in groups or pairs. Traveling (and living) solo a lot this year has made me realize it even moreso than I think I ever have before, that people are communal beings, that we are made for- and naturally desire- knownness and closeness; and also that we are our own as well. 

Autonomous- but really capable of enhancing each other. Individual- but really inclined to community. Some of us wild and free- but also longing to be known, and seen; to belong. I took photos for several adventuring couples, I explained my solitude to one group on the shuttle, I reminded myself how important it is to live boldly while I can and should and that God has in store exactly what I need when I need it- not when I know it. I've seen enough to know that fire, that tough seasons- with hope and patience- are ultimately refining.
There's been a lot of trust and transition this year, and that always means more than I know or am capable of providing myself. Seeking isn't a necessarily comfortable way to live, but it does seem most honest to me. I've never been a settler. I've kept the mentality that running excessively in the right, wholesome, braver direction will certainly sometimes mean running alone, but that's very important to do. 

We learn things in our trials- and our glories- alone that mold us into the people we're supposed to become. I know that; I don't know what's ahead for the new community I'll be immersed in next year, for the new journeys I'll be partaking in, for the new challenges I'll face. 

The assurance that everything will be okay comes pretty exclusively from knowing I'm on the right road, not from knowing the conditions. Whether storms of seasons in life, everything shall pass.

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