Mindful of different ways of being, our awareness as a species shifts –
We recognize the soul of the land as our own.
~Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve, unattributed
Back from Yellowstone, back from paradise. Thirteen days, some alone, some with my group, some with old friends. Why is it so special? Why do I long to return when there are so many other places to explore? Is it that it was here, so many years ago, that I first knew the power of wild places? Is it that I have seen the magic of Yellowstone in the faces and thoughts of the many people I have guided over the years? I don’t know for sure, but it is an influential place for me, and always will be. There is something to knowing a wild place too, knowing its rhythms, knowing where to look to find its secrets. And there are the lucky ones, the friends that call this place home – Dan, Cindy and Kelly, Beth, Laurie, Jan and Leo. And others who love it like I do that I frequently see in my travels – Parks and his group, Melissa and Megan and the North Carolina teachers, Bill the wolf interpreter, Bob. It certainly is also the wildlife, so abundant, so different from that at home. Perhaps it is the soul of the land, a feeling I have of being connected to something grand, something far bigger and more powerful than what I experience back home, something that demands respect and awareness. I may never truly know, but that may be just fine. Maybe I should just accept that there is something special about this place…
Whatever evaluation we finally make of a stretch of land, no matter how profound or accurate, we will find it inadequate. The land retains an identity of its own, still deeper and more subtle than we can know. Our obligation toward it then becomes simple: to approach with an uncalculating mind, with an attitude of regard. To try to sense the range and variety of its expression – its weather and color and animals. To intend from the beginning to preserve some of the mystery within it as a kind of wisdom to be experienced, not questioned. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there.
I do know this…every time I leave, I know I will be back. Until then, some images to remember it by….