to go in the dark with a light

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to celebrate the dark night of the new moon this week, I drove out to the desert with one of my very favorite wild hearts, just back from an extended overseas adventure. what better place to catch up on two months of exploration (both inner & outer, on both sides of the pacific) than around the light of a campfire, than under the luminous splendor of our fine galaxy?

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while I had a special place in the desert in mind to share with d, I trusted him to pick a spot for us to camp and play on this particular trip. serendipitously, the canyon he drove us into was exactly the canyon I had in mind. though its official name is ‘hellhole canyon,’ I had renamed it on a previous trip to ‘paradise,’ an apt name with its verdant oasis nestled into its quartz-charged walls, its healthy spring that flows down the canyon’s center to nourish an entire riparian wonderland, legions of beautifully climbable boulders for hours of playtime, a waterfall home to ferns and moss, strong palms that sway in the cool breeze of this break in the earth’s crust, and a wide alluvial fan that opens toward the desert floor below in a surge of sunlight, cactus, wildflower and sky.

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blankets spread, fire roaring, beers cracked open & sausages cooking on the hot coals, our awareness turned to the spectacle above. without a moon to obscure their light, the constellations– orion, leo, cancer, gemini, cassiopeia, and ursas minor & major– rose in the east and turned their faces toward us on their pathway to the pacific. the milky way shone with high-beam clarity, revealing to us this arm of the galaxy in which we circle together in the black velvet of space that surrounds.

‘to go in the dark with a light is to know the light. to know the dark, go dark. go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings.’ — wendell berry

two tribes of coyotes’ sweet songs echoing from both sides of the canyon sent shivers down my spine. when else do I feel this alive?

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as soon as the morning sun broke across our faces we were up & into the mouth of the canyon. it was much wetter than I remembered– desert springtime in full effect. the bright bloom of wildflowers like the source of all color: the origin of ‘purple’ itself here, the red before all other conceptions of ‘red’ here. a hawk sighting. a monarch butterfly lighting on a newborn leaf.

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and so much play! the playful and free movements of the body in its natural state– in this natural habitat– are to me the most pure pleasure in the world. where else do I feel this alive? everything breathing, shifting, growing, unfurling all at the same time down the endless rolling course of the lifeworld, and us participant to it, and the awe of that–

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and so much light, even on the darkest night of the month, even in the deepest shade of the immoveable boulders–

and each trip into this new & ancient world of ours a rebirth, a renewal, a celebration of what we are part of: this sacred play of the everything that breathes life into us and carries us through shadows and into light, light, and more light.

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