This I believe
I believe in hope. The parched, dry earth lies cracked and imperfect beneath my feet. While I hike through the Canyon Lands of Southern Utah, every step impacts the bones in my body as I clamber up the slick rock. My throat burns and my calves scream, still I press on. My Fathers’ spirit lives here, within the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Colorado River, each landscape embedded with vivid memories of a father and a daughter.
We are driving up the curled rock face of Elephant Hill in Elephant Canyon. As my father works the car, like a rock climber works his ropes, the whites of my knuckles are illuminated through the thin skin on my fingers as I grip the handles in his 1974 Land Cruiser. Once at the top, we are greeted with a fantastic view of colorful spires, and as I catch my breath, we absorb the magnificent panorama.
We are then standing on top of a mesa in Island in the Sky, looking down the crags of sheer sandstone into the Maze, through which the Colorado River runs. I am thinking that if a view as beautiful as this exists, then anything is possible. It is here in this place where my father is truly himself, the man he was supposed to be and could be still. Nothing can erase the hope this lands beauty brings me.
I am listening eagerly as my father explains the amazing wonders of the Utah Juniper, a water-conserving tree that diverts fluids from one branch to those that need it, so that the whole tree can survive until the next rain.
As I look back now I think, our visits to Southern Utah were a means to divert his remaining precious life force to the dying branches of his life, in the hope that I would gain the same strength and inspiration.
My Father’s life is now gone, sucked dry by alcohol, just as the desert surface is sucked dry of water when the afternoon sun hits it. Though the canyon has its own means to ease the harshness of the afternoon sun (the beautiful vegetation, which is prevalent throughout the Canyon lands, is proof of such mercy), my father had no such innate capabilities. His death was not in vain, even though the Canyon Lands beauty was unable to provide him the strength he craved, it has favored my life and instilled a continuing hope. I have become like the annual wildflowers of Canyon Lands, blooming only when growing conditions are favorable, a ‘drought escaper’ by nature, adapting to whatever conditions may come, always leaning towards the light of hope.
My fathers’ ashes are spread in this sacred place. It is for me a place of hope. I feel at peace here, secure, but most of all, I feel the essence of my dad.
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