last week I was honored to join a new friend on a hiking adventure to the mexican border– and for moments, into mexico– with the intention of exploring a sacred peak whose foothills crisscross the boundaries between two countries. k had grown up in this region of the world and had spent many years adventuring in these hills, but for me the experience was utterly new: the land so green and untouched, the country unfolding before us like some wild and pure delight.
we could feel, and see, and intuit that there was something special about this place– and indeed, we had both read in our guides that this particular mountain held special value for humans throughout time. for indigenous americans, it had been a meeting place for shamans of the surrounding groups to gather to keep the peace. it had also been the site of fertility rites throughout time. k had seen the mountain from the summit of one of its neighbors some time back and felt drawn by its massive, stately presence. in short, we knew the moment we set foot on its earth, as we began to climb, that we were walking on hallowed ground.
it was one of the most epic adventures I have ever reveled in: though the forecast called for sunshine, by the time we pulled onto the dirt road that brought us to the trailhead, thick clouds circled our peak and the mountains surrounding us in all four directions. by the time we dashed off the main trail to explore a smaller path, at the saddle, that led to a gathering of majestic boulders, it had started to rain. the rain, as the wind picked up and the clouds darkened, quickly turned to hail– which we could collect in the palms of our hands and taste– and then snow. we took shelter in a mossy pocket nestled between two boulders, then made a run for the summit in the growing cold.
from the top, from the greatest height of this sacred megalith, the view of the two towns below us and the differences between them looked even more disparate, the fence that passed for a national border– the very idea of this and any border– even more absurd. the first word that came to mind to describe this fence was scar, and after that sank in, there was no un-seeing it. this mountain’s scar– this fence that divides humans from humans (while birds fly freely)– runs halfway up its gorgeous flank– then, abruptly, ends. we knew we had to explore it.
if the notion of a fence that can divide peoples struck us as bizarre, then the notion of the fence simply ending was downright surreal. we proceeded to walk across it dozens of times. I straddled the border, one foot in mexico and one in the states.
imagine there’s no countries / it’s easy if you try
(easy, if you’re on this side of the fence. had we been mexican citizens, our border activities would have probably landed us in serious trouble with the big white and green trucks that patrol every square mile of this vast borderline.)
even though this mountain has incurred such a ghastly scar, the hours we spent exploring its ridges, its notches, its saddle and summit, these hours were spent feeling, knowing and speaking of the holy presence this land holds, an undercurrent that carried us from its base to its crown to honor what I can only describe as its own awareness, some huge and awe-inspiring being that breathes in every plant on its surface and in every stone in its awakened embrace. this was a presence that had been birthed eons before humans walked this earth– a presence that had weathered more severe conditions than we had witnessed on its peak, and had surmounted gravity itself to rise above the lovely valleys folding in on themselves in a mesmerizing wave of greenness, endlessly, through more ages than we could even begin to remember– the concept of ‘united states’ or ‘mexico’ so new to its ancient memory, as new almost as our own footprints on its blessed soil. and even with its prominent wound, this massive spirit stood tall, and proud, face tilted to the unending dance of sun and cloud above.