I just finished with the Sedona Women’s Retreat and was talking with a woman at a local Sedona shop about an experience we had while hiking Boynton Canyon, a two and a half mile hike deep into the Boynton Canyon Vortex. On our journey near the heart of the canyon where we ended up we first heard and then saw a rattlesnake. One of the women was very near where the snake was approaching the trail and first stopped and then slowly backed away. Another woman was up ahead of the snake looking back down and when I saw her she had a blissful smile on her face and her hand over her heart as if to show her gratitude for this marvel of nature.
The rattlesnake can be deadly. One would not want to be bitten by this creature. Yet every time I have seen the rattlesnake in nature it has been very respectful, warned us of its approach or whereabouts and then allowed us plenty of time and space in which to back away and allow him his space to travel or simply be. So to see such a creature can invoke much fear and anxiety. Still we all kept our distance and observed this creature approach the trail and slowly make its way across into the brush on the other side.
As we were all standing quietly in our Holy space of observation and oneness with nature a man began to approach descending down the trail. We were not alone. There were others who had joined us in this hushed moment of observation. One man behind us had shared his desire to see a rattlesnake and was pleased that his desire had been granted. But the approaching man seemed to ignore the stop sign I made with my hand and my words “rattlesnake.” He pounded down the trail right up to the snake that began to coil and rattle his warning to the intruder. Then the man got out his camera and began snapping photos. Others talked about how they should have brought their camera and I suggested perhaps this was something to be captured with the heart rather than a camera.
As I was telling this story to the shop owner I explained how this experience was a great example of man versus nature. If we respect nature, nature respects us. But there are so many who ignore the warnings and push their way in without holding anything sacred. This man came not only into the sacred space of the snake but also he disrupted the holy moment each of us had come together to experience. He was a perfect example of that aspect of humanity who believes nature is ours to conquer rather than respect and honor.
As I finished my story the shop owner said to me “that is a beautiful story!” And I realized that it should be told. It is simple! But the message is powerful!
This is not the first time that I’ve observed rattlesnakes in nature. In Washington State where I live I saw almost a mirror of that same experience. A friend and I were hiking and we observed a rattlesnake crossing the path and heading up the trail and as approaching hikers neared we warned them of the snake. One man headed off the trail after the snake with his camera and the snake coiled in warning. My friend and I got angry and told the man to get away from the snake. He seemed ignorant and oblivious just as the man we saw in Sedona. And I realized that our world is filled with such ignorance and oblivion. And some experiences are meant to be captured with our hearts rather than with camera’s. Some moments are meant to be held sacred and photographing them can interrupt the sanctity.
When we go deep into nature we are in her territory and she will shower us with her beauty, her sacredness and offer to us her healing if we only stop the chatter in our minds and listen.
At the top of Boynton canyon, the end of the trail, we heard three men discussing politics, war and armageddon. We were in the womb of Mother earth and there was a stillness and beauty that is indescribable. Yet these voices overpowered the silence and we questioned how they could discuss such subject matters way out here in nature. Why did they bring war and destruction out here? They were truly unable to unplug from the rat race of society and allow nature to offer to them peace, if only for a moment.
Surrounded by the tall red rock canyon walls and spires we felt her presence and her power. We felt her nurturing. We heard her voice! We were touched by her hands. And as a result we will never be the same. And the more of us who allow nature to be the healer in our world the more healing our world will experience, the more balance will be restored in the hearts and minds of man and in the heart of our Mother (nature) who gave us birth.