“From joy all things are born.
by joy they are sustained
and into joy they again return.”
The Upanishads

Awakening to the soft blue light on cliffs the color of a dying fire’s embers, I’m in the presence of friends who I love and of the spirits of the ancient Puebloans who left their stories etched on the rock walls.

This is the place where joy astonishes at every turn. After two months of Missoula winter where blue sky was a fleeting rarity, yesterday’s beaming sun and a lazuli blue sky felt like, well…”heaven on earth.”


Joy is in the moment where beauty rises up to meet us, and overwhelms all other thoughts until our whole body thrums like a guitar string. Joy is that immersion in the music of nature and our bodies and souls are simply that one string resonating with all the life around us into one big love song of life.

Here, above the Escalante River of southern Utah, Sandra and I are united again and with each step through the feathery knee-deep snow we feel the delight of our connection to each other and to this place she knows well from many seasons spent here with her family in their tucked away home far far from cities and close close to the wild singing of canyon wrens that pour their notes down from the high cliffs like a waterfall.


Together, we bask in the wonder of sun below petroglyphs that tangibly tell us of the people who once stood on this very ledge and carved images that seem to convey the tracking and hunting of bighorn sheep, and of horned human beings, one with a baby inside her. In these images, a world emerges of all beings as “people” and where we are not the center, not the top, but simply equally beautiful participants in this life that begins in joy and ends in joy and revives in joy.


Upon my arrival here in late afternoon as shadows fell upon the canyons, a wondrous event happened that felt like no accident. Only a quarter mile from my destination, a male belted kingfisher flew only a few feet above my truck and landed in a cleft in the sandstone vertical wall on my right. I stopped, rolled down my window and watched. The kingfisher lifted up on his powerful wings from that rock wall and flew back to a cottonwood tree perch above the sinuous, snow-lined Calf Creek and then he laughed and laughed in that kingfisherly way. Joy.