A Thunderous Voice

July 04, 2016 Posted by: George Jacobi

View east across the expanse of Grand Canyon in the morning. The right-hand side of the landscape is in sunlight. On the left, a thunderstorm with dark rain clouds is moving into the scene from the left.

Joseph Campbell said of myth that it expressed our innate desire to lose ourselves by becoming a part of a story greater, worthier than ourselves. For some, that narrative is found outside - our place within the natural world is enough, both interesting and rewarding. Spiritually enough. For others, that cyclical, cosmically satisfying element 'nature' is an expression of God. Either way, it's a place where individuality comes in second to a sense of psychic belonging. At the same time, ironically, it can bring us personal inspiration in some form or other.

The most glorious landscapes on the planet call out to us -through our sense of beauty - to lose ourselves in them. That's why we go to those places, no matter how difficult the journey. "FIND YOUR PARK". This year's slogan is fitting, yet I suspect that if you're out here looking, the Park your soul feels most content in will find you - and tell you.

Earth speaks in different voices. She's telling you (I'll keep playing the traditional gender game here) that she'll nurture you if you reciprocate. At Cape Cod Seashore, standing in the dawn and looking off the high dunes, the line of surf rolling in from the far Azores is but a whisper. Deep in the steaming Everglades, it might be less than a whisper; it might sneak up on you in your dreams. In Yosemite, in Mt. Rainier or Yellowstone, the voice is strong and clear, saying yes, here is an embarrassment of riches. You get the idea.

Let me tell you, here at the Grand Canyon, that voice thunders. It crashes down from a heavy black sky, reverberates around in the Vishnu Schist of the inner canyon, booms up the Redwall Limestone to where you are standing in awe. Earth seems to be calling, "If you don't it get this time, right here and now, it's on you, boy. No excuses."

I'm cynical. I'd usually say it all falls on deaf ears, but that's just me. Really, they keep coming like the Grand Canyon is a magnet, over 5 million visitors annually now, and they all take the echo of that mighty voice home with them and spread it around. Somehow they heard it wherever they were, and it called them here, and when they leave, others will hear it through them. Boy, I hope so anyway.

This voice has spoken to me for 66 years now, comforting me through rain and snow, through lightning storms and empty desert. That's right, I mean through the usual personal physical and psychological trauma humans experience. Just another struggling Man/God/ape, finding peace where I can, losing myself outside myself. And I am thankful for it every sunrise.

Got into a Déjà vu the other day. I was walking alone along the wall of Kaibab Limestone, notebook and pen in hand. The slowest hiker in the whole Park, I suppose. Staring at each tree, eyes darting to every bird and lizard, smelling sage and pinyon, scribbling. Reaching outside of myself with every sense, then Pow. Whoa, was I here before? Well, once forty years ago, at the North Rim, and that's not it. But the sensation of this walk, this hour above the Abyss, came to me vividly as familiar. It must have been in my subconscious. I must have carried it around as a personal myth for all these years, and it kept me company until I found myself on this path.

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Last updated: July 19, 2016

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