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Pausing in the West

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. 
(William Wordsworth, from Intimations of Immortality)

Driving along the scenic backways of Utah, through the Dixie National Forest, light is quickly scampering on the feet of sheep and deer, running deeper into the Western hills and valleys. We wind along and around, chasing the light until we reach a fork in the road. One road leads North, up and out of the forest; the other South, deeper into the mountains and away back to the city. But it is neither North nor South that has captured us; it is the Western heavenly—no, celestial, perhaps cosmic—light that is calling us into the deadly devastating canyons bathed in hundreds of colors of radiant, crepuscular beams. Strong, sculpted bodies of clouds at the edge of the earth seem to be struggling to hold up the firmament itself.

Speechlessly we approach the edge of this great open mouth of earth and stone agape before us. Delicate purple flowers brush against our feet, and in awe we stand breathlessly searching for comfort and reconciliation from the crushing sublimity. I surrender to this moment of virgin solitude, accepting that even filled to the deepest, untouched corners of my soul, my heart is full of this thing. I cannot accommodate the deluge; it is spilling over into my mind, which opens its floodgates as I desperately search for understanding. Although it seems as steadfast as the monolithic, eternal stone that frames it, I know that it is in motion, hurtling toward the ends of the world: it is nothing more than an apparition, a glint of gold in a rapid, cold river that will never be recovered to reveal its source to greedy hands.

In this infinitesimal instant I am reconciled to a kind of strange stillness—an acceptance that there are no words, no feelings, not even thoughts that can atone for the tragedy and joy that mingles before me in the sky. Even tears are beyond it, for I know it is the music of the universe itself—it is the poetry of God.