Zion is better than yoga.
I spent four and a half hot, sweaty and blissfully soul-centering hours in Zion National Park this weekend. This is where peace is found.
I was alone; the group that I went on the trip with opted to go to the temple. I felt a little bad, but being that close to Zion and not going would have killed a little part of my soul. So I said my morning prayer from the overlook, feeling closer to God than I had in a long time.
I stayed up there for a while, perched on top of a rock, basking in the morning rays and soaking in the red rocks. I cried a little bit, thought a lot and talked to God some more.
Because I was alone and only had a few hours, I stuck to familiar trails, bypassing Angels Landing with a hint of regret and a promise to myself that I'd be back. I took the shuttle through the park, smiling inwardly as I half-listened to the three boys beside me planning their movie, "Indiana Jones and the Court of the Patriarchs."
And I sort of made fun of a girl walking in front of me on one trail who, pointing at a squirrel, indignantly told her boyfriend, "Those things are everywhere!" I strongly considered telling her that those "things" live here and and she's actually the intruder. And who doesn't know the word for squirrel?
Then there was Kolob. No wonder God lives there.
This is about my favorite view in the entire world (except, of course, for any view with my adorable nephews in it.) It's about halfway up Kolob Canyon; you round a corner and see this. It feels like you could drive into the red rocks forever.
Zion is one of the few places in Utah where I feel like I belong. My political views aren't out of place here. They don't even matter here; something higher brings us all together. I am not a disppointment here or some anomaly that must be explained away. I don't feel like I have to put on my company face here. It's a place where being alone is never lonely. I fit in here. I am safe here. There aren't many of those places in my world.
On this trip I also went to "Les Miserables" at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. I haven't seen this play in years and forgot just how full of truth it is. Jean Valjean sings my favorite line at the very end: "To love another person is to see the face of God."
Maybe the reason I haven't felt very close to God lately is because lately people have just been grating on my nerves -- people who set fires, people who drive poorly, people I know, people I don't, people in general. There has been little love toward anyone.
Fortunately, Zion is full of love. Breathing in the air, feeling the solitude of the sandstone cliffs like a reassuring embrace, knowing that the end of each path was worth the hardships along the trail. Zion has never let me down, baited me, made me angry or broken my heart.
I hope I brought a little bit of Zion home with me, besides the dust on my shoes. I could use some of the simple, patient, enduring power of a place that will always be home to a small part of me.