The Beautiful Trail

Now Talking God

With your feet I walk

I walk with your limbs

I carry forth your body

For me your mind thinks

Your voice speaks for me

Beauty is before me

And beauty is behind me

Above and below me hovers the beautiful

I am surrounded by it

I am immersed in it

In my youth I am aware of it

And in old age I shall walk quietly

The beautiful trail.

— Native American Prayer

This is one of my favorite Earth prayers. Some texts have it as a Navajo prayer, some a more general Native American prayer. Its hypnotic cadence echoes and grounds us in the natural world.

It conjures up memories of a trip I made to Canyon de Chelly in late October–early November of 1992. We were desperate to go someplace warm and had imagined Hawaii, but the pocket book did not have enough money in it to cover that trip. So we thought – next best thing: the southwest. We’d left it too late in the year for it to be a warm holiday. It was bitterly cold — deserts have the biggest diurnal temperature variations on the planet (that’s a $20 word meaning fluctuation between the daily high and low). Making the best of it, we wore 3 layers of clothing and enjoyed ourselves anyway.

One day we hiked down into the canyon, and as we descended, it grew warmer and warmer. The walls of the canyon glowed with shades of orange, ochre, yellow and umber, and radiated energy. The day gradually warmed up. As if this wasn’t perfect enough, we heard the sounds of flute-playing coming from somewhere. The music wove and danced with the wind and canyon walls. As we hiked out of the canyon, we saw the musician perched on the rim of the canyon.

It took a long time to finish this painting of my trip to Canyon de Chelly (below) — I started it in 1993 and just finished it this year. I’d come back to it periodically and couldn’t quite get the conversation finished. It feels done now.



© 2011. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without written consent from the author, Moira Hill.

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