A Woman's Voice

HOPE IN EARTH’S CATHEDRAL — October 11, 2010 by Hope

Posted in A WOMAN'S VOICE by doloresayotte on October 11, 2010
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A Wo-Man’s Voice

I turned thirty, on a peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  I had embarked on a cross-country road trip and this stop was about 2/3 of the way back home and about 20 days on the road. 

Each day of the trip was carefully mapped out and planned months  in advance. I used the AAA travel service and studied my maps and road plan for weeks. My objective was to get to the East coast and back hitting as many of the National Parks as possible. Camping most of the way, with a nice warm bed about every 3 days was the game plan. I packed my camping gear and headed for all points due East. 

On the return trip, I arrived at the Rocky Mountain National park just after dusk on a day that started at dawn in Chicago.  I suffered a brief wave of disappointment upon discovering the luxury of the hot showers and restrooms I had become accustomed to in at National Parks my entire trip, were not available after labor day.  Boiling water by fire light for my nightly rituals would have to suffice. 

There was snow on the ground, but it was not new. It was flecked with dirt and melted in spots revealing leaves of a season gone by that had settled between rocks and stones on the ground. The tent was nestled into the shadows of a pine tree cove with the entry way was lit by the glow of the fire.  The air smelled of pine, wet leaves and the snap of fall.  The only sound was the crackle of the fire. I was determined to be twenty something as long as possible so I made a point of staying awake until midnight. The moment I turned thirty came and went without ceremony. I waited a few moments to feel different. When nothing of consequence came over me, I decided to retire for the evening. 

As the night grew long the wind howled. It sounded like  a thousand wolves and a train approaching all at the same time. My tent wasn’t moving. Nothing seemed to be stirring from the wind, but I needed this, almost supernatural sound that seemed to surround me  in my tiny tent, to be something I could name. So I decided it was the wind. 

Sleep did not come easy that night. Near sunrise I unzipped my way out of the tent. The light of  dawn through the trees and the sparkle of the sun on the frosty morning was a sight for sore eyes.  It only took a few steps of exploration with the benefit of daylight on my surroundings for me to know the true meaning of heaven on earth. Outstretched in front of me as far as I could see was an ocean of clouds. Above me snow-capped mountain hid their peaks in the clouds, below me rocky mountain peeks peered through them.  Shimmering with the colors of the sun rise, the clouds looked like a carpet I could step out on and walk from one peak to the next.  The sound of the wind from the night before made sense as I could see the howl came as the wind whistled between the mountains. It was breath-taking.  I’m not sure how long I  stood there staring. I don’t think it was long as I was wearing slippers in the snow. Suffice to say, I made a point to take it all in. 


I drove down through the mountain pass of Rocky Mountain National park as I headed West into Utah. All day just astounded at the beauty I was driving through. “Purple mountain majesty”. I then understood the inspiration behind those lyrics. 

I arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park about an hour before sunset. It was the autumnal equinox. The day of equal light and equal night when the sun and moon momentarily shine as rivals as their journey paths cross. The view from the edge of the red clay canyon, cast against an aqua green sky and shadowed by the sun and the moon is etched in my memory forever. I know that for the rest of my life I will not see a more magical place. I had no idea anything could be that beautiful. If the Rocky Mountains are heaven on earth, then this sacred place is  earth’s cathedral.  A tribute cast by mother nature in honor of her maker. A reminder to her keepers that we are a humble part of a majestic whole. 

My return to the shore, my creatures and my creature comforts passed without event after leaving Bryce. I returned to my work-a-day schedule a changed person.  Richer somehow for having been in that place and made that journey.  Until then, all my travels were city to city by plane to places of amusement and places of glamour. I’m not sure what inspired the trip, taken for the most part alone, but it was life changing to see the middle. To see what was in between the two shores I knew so well. To stand on highest peaks and drink from wells of the deepest canyons. To see with my own eyes, the purple mountain majesty and the amber waves of grain. 

For me the message of hope in this recollection is the reminder that there is much more at play than who we are happening where we are. If I had not seen Bryce with my own eyes; smelled her air, touched her grit and brushed her dust off my own shoes, I’m not sure I could have ever imagined the depth of her grandeur.  Beyond the beauty of the experience, I carried away a humbled awareness of the limits of my wonder. A reminder that in times when hope seems at bay and possibility dead-ended, I may only be at the edge of what my experiences, thus far, have taught me to imagine. Sometimes all my hope needs to once again breathe deep, is to travel on the path un-taken, faith by my side and wonder in my heart and a willingness to be free. 

– here’s to hope

Hope…thanks so much for sharing your unique and exciting 30th birthday experience with us. 


22 Responses to 'HOPE IN EARTH’S CATHEDRAL — October 11, 2010 by Hope'

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  1. Barb Newman said,

    Thanks for the vicarious experience…I feel that I caught a glimpse of Hope’s physical and spiritual journey.

    • hope_rising said,

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. It really was a very spiritual experience for me.

  2. chosenwoman said,

    Sounds like a wonderful time you had…

    • hope_rising said,

      Hi Chosenwoman,

      It was an amazing trip, beyond anything I would have expected. So many amazing memories!

      thanks so much for reading

  3. Eileen said,

    I envy the journey…..the ability to think, to sort it all out, to take it all in and walk away refreshed and realizing there is much beauty and goodness to be had and experienced in this world of ours. Thank you for taking us through such an amazing journey both physical and emotional:)

    • Ziggy Gravallese said,

      I agree with you Eileen . . . cherish the moment.

      • hope_rising said,

        thanks Ladies for the collaborative comments. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. I’m glad you could feel the moments in there too, I was really hoping people would understand and so afraid the words would come short!

        thanks for the note!

  4. Muriel Thompson said,

    I have never been there, but can feel the beauty and majesty of the place from your writings.

    • hope_rising said,

      It is an amazing place. Well Well worth the journey!

      I’m so glad the writing helped you feel like you had been there. Even just in the pictures, which fall so short of the beauty, it still takes my breath away.

      thanks so much for the note!

  5. M.A. said,

    Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

    • hope_rising said,

      thanks M.A. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for the note!

  6. Nora Watkins said,

    I remember when I turned 30. It was the exact day we closed on our new home. We got the keys and walked into an empty home. It was exciting to be a new homeowner, but as we walked in the house, we were reminded of all the work that needed to be done. At the end of my 30th birthday, I looked in the mirror and there was white paint all over my hair and face. We were painting all day. I was exhausted and still had to give the kids a bath and get them to bed. I was wiped out, but it was all worth it. I like your 30th birthday experience!! The pictures are beautiful and your memories that you shared are wonderful.

    • hope_rising said,

      JINKIES! I definiltey like my 30th better! But then again, I don’t wear white paint as well as you do!

      Actually, in your own house working with the ones that will make it a home, that’s a pretty sweet 30th too!

      thanks for the note!

  7. Ziggy Gravallese said,

    I remember turning all those milestones: 20, 30, 40, and recently, 50. I spent those important birthdays with my family and friends. Significant birthdays make me reflect upon where we have been and where we want to go. I like your birthday experience, as so many of your shared experiences, where you value and take in the “moment.” I think that is what I have learned about your story of HOPE . . . take in the moment. Your whole blog is an incredible journey of simple moments, meant to be mini-miracles. You are a true beacon of hope, and thank you for inviting me to share with you.

    • hope_rising said,

      mur! thanks so much for saying that. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story. I did actually have a really wise person guide me in my early twenties who taught me how to find moments to ‘rest’ my thoughts in, even in the midst of turmoil. Taking the time to take ‘it’ in … I’m so grateful to have been taught that young enough to have a long long string of mini moments an mini miralces to rest my mind in when my mind needs resting!

      thanks for the note!

  8. Danielle said,

    Wonderful story. It just goes to show how such experiences can be enlightening for one’s peace of mind. Great read!

    • hope_rising said,

      Thanks Danielle!

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading the article. Except for the really loud howling in the night from the wind…. it was such an amazing experience!

      thanks for the note!

  9. clare said,

    I loved your story, Hope. I wish I was as brave as you. I bet I’d see more of the world’s beauty. Thank you for letting me walk next to you in your story. I waited tables on my 30th birthday. I think your adventure beats that one by a mile!

    • hope_rising said,

      whoa! waiting tables on your 30th! Not good! Let’s find a way to celebrate you in a more festive way!

      I’m so glad you liked the story though, thanks so much for stopping by!

    • Ziggy said,

      I would have to say, that I have seen your artwork on this blog and in real life. I believe you DO see the world’s beauty. Like HOPE said in one of her more recent posts, Hope is right where you stand!

  10. Ramona said,

    Your stories are always so inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

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