A desert slot canyon is the perfect place to practice Wilderness Contemplative Prayer. Here, like the medieval mystics, we envision that our being is an endlessly-deep abyss or canyon, at whose core dwells a divine Presence who is lost in love. This Presence - our Source - acts like a magnet, drawing our attention ever-deeper into the canyon depths. Meanwhile, our thoughts, perceptions and emotions circulate like the nighttime stars set in the sky - far, far above us. Far from becoming a nuisance, the chatter of these thoughts serves instead to highlight by contrast the rich depths of the silence - an expression of divine bliss - welling up from within our innermost being. With the help of a sacred word or image that repeats itself whenever we become attached to any particular thought or emotion, we let them all go on their merry way, without our paying any attention to the particular content of those chattering thoughts and emotions. In the process, we simply rest in the Beloved who is lost to himself in love within the endless depths of our being. Just as the canyon walls - especially at night - bring a sense of intimacy and being-held in love, so the silent bliss welling up from within EMBRACES us on all sides. Here, we can't SEE the Divine Presence because it is so CLOSE. Yet our faith becomes a form of perception that can see in the dark and realizes that we are indeed held and loved by a Presence that is utterly enamoured by our own unique personality and being :)
Photo: Redosier Dogwood leaf and a hiker at the far end of the slot canyon, Joint Trail, Canyonlands National Park, UT, November 28, 2015
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.