Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Thin Place in the Land of Enchantment

Yesterday, I visited Tent Rocks National Monument, about 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. What an aweswome experience!

There were literally a few hundred of these "tent rock" formations, the product of a volcanic eruption about 6 million years ago and erosion since then. These conical formations are called "hoodoos" and look like upside down ice cream cones. They vary in height from a few feet to more than 90 feet. The cliffs out of which these formations are carved are white, which is why the Native Americans call this place "Kashe-Katuwe" ("white cliffs").

I took a hike up a "slot" canyon through the tent rocks. This 1.5 mile hike is one of the most unusual I've ever enjoyed. I felt as if I were in another world. At its narrowist the canyon is only a few feet wide and the walls go up a few hundred feet. The hike takes you to the top of a mesa where you can see nearly all of the formations from above. No wonder New Mexico is called "The Land of Enchantment."

The Celts have a term for places where you feel close to the sacred dimension of life: thin places. These are places where the veil between two worlds is very thin. Any place can be a thin place, but I find them in places of rugged and stunning beauty. Visiting such places is inspiring and soul-nourishing.

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