Thursday, January 14, 2010
A Hike Into Silence
I just returned from a 7 mile hike in the Bandelier National Monument wilderness. This rugged wilderness near Los Alamos, NM, is laced with canyons, mesas, streams and the spectacular cliff dwelling ruins of the Anasazi.
My hike took me down and up four canyons, each progressively deeper. Alamo Canyon, the fourth and final, was 600 feet deep. The trail into this canyon of red, orange and grey cliffs was a marvel of engineering. Most of it was rock steps and descended over many switchbacks. I had lunch at the top of Alamo. The photo of Alamo Canyon on the right comes from wilderness.com.
Because there was lots of snow and ice on the trail, I had to be careful. I used trekking poles and this allowed me to look around when I was hiking on more level ground. I was rewarded for my vigilance by seeing four elk, five mule deer, and one jack rabbit. The elk must use the hiking trail as it was graced with a multitude of elk droppings. I didn't hike for more than a few steps without seeing elk raisins.
What was most compelling about this hike was the total silence for a large part of it. There was no wind and few birds. When I ate lunch, I was surrounded by silence. There are few things that feed the soul like silence. In silence there are no distractions other than those we create ourselves.
Experiencing this soulful silence reminded me how rare it is in my life. There is almost always noise in my life. Even when I'm typing at my computer in a very silent room, I can still hear the noise of the keys.
The psalmist said, "Be still and know that I am God." Out of stillness and silence can come a stronger relationship with God. I wonder how I can create more silence in my daily life so I won't have to find a wilderness whenever I need nourishing stillness.