I have been spending this week amid the rough and spiny beauty of Big Bend. Watching the sun rush into the morning sky from behind the ridge, listening to the birds as they wake the breeze. Seeing the thorny limbs of the ocotillo silhouetted against a streak of sunlit cloud.
This is wild and lonely country, with a hardened grace that is recorded in the adobe history of common striving. None could make it here, alone. You can see, in the cracked and patched exterior of this old homestead, a common effort extended across generations – different times and styles folding in upon one another, with sturdy utility as its common theme. It makes you wish the old timers would come and sit a spell and tell you the stories of their lives, here – what they saw in the place, what anchored their hopes, what fueled their vision.
On our hike today we visited a place where there are petroglyphs – paintings on the side
of a concave rock face, shielded a bit from the elements. They tell us that this series of red images of human and animal forms is some 3,000 years old or more. The back of this huge rock leans in upon another, forming a shelter big enough for a small family to huddle together against the wind. A depression in the smaller rock forms a small bowl that still holds water from a recent rain. It is not deep, so it would not be a permanent source of water, but no doubt a welcome asset. It must have been a ‘perfect’ prehistoric home – a safe space, a gallery of stories, perhaps a place to bathe.
All in all, it is good to get away into a different environment – one in which I feel a bit of my vulnerability – where the unfamiliar reminds me to keep alert, to watch my footing, to stop and listen to true quiet. I am grateful to be here with friends, to share a sense of admiration for this landscape, and wonder together about the lives lived on this spare earth.
I am grateful to have the time to notice that there is a sunrise and a sunset, each full of glory, every single day.
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