my right ankle flared up again on wednesday night after our 10 mile hike in. so the next day, i ended up staring at havasu falls for four hours while waiting for the rest of the ladies to come back from picking up our permit in the village.
sometimes the gift of physical pain is that it forces us to be still. our bodies will have it no other way. it's rare these days to be given the luxury to just sit and stare at something beautiful. i soaked in that time by either staring at havasu fall or dangling my feet in the water, thinking much about nothing, just being there, feeling the rays of sun on my arms.
murphy (the campground ranger and local havasupai) eventually came by to chat. (we met earlier that day.) i asked him questions about his life on the reservation, his family, the tribe, the struggles of life on the res, etc, and he shared candidly what he could. from our conversation, i hope to never forget how he responded to my question, "what gives you hope?" it wasn't so much the words that followed, but the intonations in his voice, the blank look on his face, the obvious inward journey he was unexpectedly thrusted into. murphy repeated, "hope?" my heart broke a little bit in that moment.
after he left, i spent some time staring at a couple who stood on solid rock, just holding each other. the husband's gentle caress, the wife's trusting embrace, touched a part of me that longs for a partner like the one they've found in each other. compassionate, not demanding anything, instead generously giving and receiving, and comfortable to just be with each other.
i later talked to the woman by saying to her, "can i share an observation?" a big smile and an open heart said, "sure!" i told her, "you two seem like you're very much in love." this sparked a longer conversation about how she's been married for over twenty years and that it is (as in currently) not easy. they've had many struggles and have been working hard at their marriage, most recently going to counseling 1-2xs/week for a year and a half. "we're still learning," she humbly told me. it was such a gift to be witness to such a real process of loving.