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Walk in Beauty (Part I)

Almost forty years ago, I was blessed to live and work at the Grand Canyon's south rim in northern Arizona. Like many I worked with,--and many today--traveling to and working there was often a significant life transition, simultaneously an adventure.

Elsewhere, I've written about a youthful crisis, loss of my first significant professional position, psychological instability, and the beginning of spiritual practice to regain balance and direction.

I lived in the urban paradise of San Diego, California, unemployed and struggling financially, but getting along well enough. So absorbed was I in spiritual practice, physically and psychologically rebuilding myself, I viewed employment, much less relocation, as impediments to those processes.

Continuing to receive my weekly pittance from the State required some measure of active job-seeking. Before the Internet, cellphones, etc., the search was done mainly through the newspaper help-wanted sections. I'd followup with just enough inquiries to keep my state dollars coming.

One day, pro forma, I consented to an interview in a bland mid-range corporate franchise hotel that I could not find today if I tried. The employer was hiring for workers in the hospitality operations at the Grand Canyon.

As said, I neither desired a job nor relocating somewhere far away from the beach. At the time, I didn't even know where the Grand Canyon was (Before you chuckle, a decade or so later, the U.S. Postal Service was forced to destroy 100 million stamps depicting the Grand Canyon in mirror image and locating it in the State of Colorado.). [1]

The interview was brief, the interviewer was pleasant enough. I departed feeling that I would soon check off another good couple of weeks on the dole and promptly put the event past me. Some weeks later--a month or so, I believe--I received a job offer in the mail for a hotel room cleaner and/or janitor's position. The wage was meager. Only 90 days of employment were guaranteed in the job agreement I was asked to sign and return by mail "as soon as possible," lest I lose the opportunity to another prospect.

Room cleaner/janitor? Heck, I was a 29-year old Army veteran with a college degree from the University of California. I had education, training, and experience in bookkeeping and management finance. Now, don't hear me wrong here! I did not think I deserved better than others. From the age of 14, I had been on my own doing hard physical work for low wages. I just thought this prospective employer had seriously underestimated my potential utility to them. They didn't seem sensible. I set the contract and prepaid, self-addressed return envelope aside and went out for a run on the beach.

It was late January in San Diego, winter. Winter in San Diego is warmer and more pleasant than the height of summer in Michigan or Massachusetts. Beautiful as it was, I felt gently pulled or guided—nothing greatly mystical here. I'm a hard worker. At this time, behind the apparent idleness and directionless-ness, I was indeed working hard on myself. And you can likely guess the next part of the story. A handful of days later, I signed and returned the job agreement. I gave notice to my landlord, closed my piddling bank account, packed my meager possessions into my 1972 lemon yellow Ford Pinto, and drove off to find the Grand Canyon (yes, it was in Arizona!). It was the beginning of a whole new life that I look back on with amazement and wonder.

The Grand Canyon became my spiritual home. As a professional tour guide, I'm blessed to return to it many times a year. My ashes will rest somewhere in its vastness. Sometimes I imagine myself returning to it in another existence as a Great Raven, soaring over it, perching now and again to take in its beauty.

Grand Canyon is where I encountered the word Hózhó, a Diné (Navajo) word that superficially refers to the spiritual beauty, balance, and harmony of creation. It is well more than that. We'll explore the notion more deeply in subsequent "Walk in Beauty" posts. Until then, here's the "Beauty Way" prayer, an ancient and eminently suitable Diné mantra for silent or vocal meditation:

In beauty, I walk

With beauty before me, I walk

With beauty behind me, I walk

With beauty above me, I walk

With beauty around me, I walk

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again [2]

Read it. Memorize it. Think it. Say it out loud or silently. And, look around!

Walk in beauty. Beauty walks in you. . .

Notes ********************

[2] In Navajo transliteration from the Discover Navajo Facebook site:

Hózhóogo naasháa doo

Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo

Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo

Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo

T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo

Hózhó náhásdlíí'

Hózhó náhásdlíí'

Hózhó náhásdlíí'

Hózhó náhásdlíí'

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