I Saw the Light

 

It was early morning in the south-facing dining room of Twin Rocks Cafe and I was feeling quiet and introspective. As I wandered among the tables looking for smudges and smears missed during the prior evening's cleanup, I felt something singularly compelling. It could have been the sanctity of Sunday morning, or maybe the almost paralyzing peace of that particular moment. Whatever the reason, I felt an overarching sense of calm that was unbroken even as the dishwasher, cooks and servers began rattling round in the kitchen behind me.

Before the sun crests the eastern horizon and our corner of the world becomes fully enlightened, Bluff stands almost motionless in the semi-darkness, cars don't cruise, the wind doesn't whine and even hares don't hop. To people accustomed to an urban setting, this lack of movement might be unnerving, but for those of us raised in rural America, "out in the sticks", it is the norm. The kinetic energy of our country's larger cities has no presence in our daily lives, so we move slower and are more directly connected to the natural world. Out here we have time to communicate with Mother Earth and Father Sky and absorb the lessons they advocate. Not that we always listen, fully comprehend the message or follow the advice.

Navajo Mother Earth and Father Sky Handmade Weaving - Luana Tso (#54)


The previous night I had been at the restaurant when three twenty-somethings came in for beer and a bite to eat. Like most young people, they were more interested in what was happening on their phones than what was going on in the next booth. As I walked past their table, however, I noticed them scrolling through photographs and gasping at the shots and selfies they had taken of themselves in the surrounding geography. Apparently they were transfixed by their journey through this land, because one suddenly blurted out, "I must show the world! I must show the world!" Soon they were all shuffling in their seats and softly chanting the same mantra. It was late and they were the only patrons in the restaurant or they might have sparked a movement. While it could have been the alcohol, I concluded they were instead infected with a form of red rock, high desert fever and had decided they should share it with the rest of the population, or at least those within their personal electronic sphere. I guessed what they were feeling was a little like the Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu; difficult to diagnose, life changing at times, but never fatal.

With memories of the prior evening's young trio and thoughts of Johnny Rivers meandering through my mind, I watched the crystal rays illuminate the line of trees established as a windbreak on the westerly side of the old Curtis Jones hay farm. I am terrible with plant typology, so I have never determined what kind of stock they are. All I know is they are thin, grayish and extremely tall. As a result, these lanky timbers turn a whiter shade of pale and look almost apparitional as the sun rises, highlighting them against the glowing coral colored cliffs embracing Bluff.

Watching the sunbeams creep slowly across the valley, I could not help thinking, "I saw the light!" Now I realize that term is generally associated with having some type of revelation, or finally grasping the true meaning of a topic, which I likely was not experiencing. For me, it literally meant witnessing the birth of this new day, with all its possibilities and potential. I have never been good at practicing institutionalized religion; churches and chapels leave me yearning for the great outdoors, and parsons preaching morality or mores find me distracted, disinterested. Consequently, I long ago discovered my God in nature. I sense the presence of a higher power when I watch the seasons change, see waterfalls cascading over desert varnished sandstone or witness the sun and moon travel across the sky each day. Bluff is, of course, the perfect place to be if that is your philosophy, your theology. I believe outside is where God wants to be, not held captive in some building, no matter how splendid or swanky it may be.

It was not long before the automobiles began to ambulate and the bunnies bounce. In that moment between darkness and light I once again witnessed my own personal Paradise. And then there they were, the twenty-something threesome, hungry for bacon and eggs and keen for coffee. They too must have seen the light, because they were overtly and environmentally enraptured.

With warm regards from Steve and the team: Barry, Priscilla and Danny.