I stayed outside the park at the Yosemite Bug International Hostel. On the first morning's ride into the park, just outside the entrance on Hwy 140, the granite begins to reveal itself in large slabs and boulders along the Merced River.
The river became reminiscent of a segment of the tributaries in Rubicon River region of the Tahoe National Forest where Shyla and I, along with a large group of friends, would spend extended weekends each summer. Most of the weekend was spent rock hopping barefoot on the large slabs of granite up and down the creek.
There was a humbling sacredness about the slabs of granite, haphazardly tumbled down the creek, and the little round eggs of granite that could be found in the crevices and washouts along the banks.
It's amazing how i forgot the depth of meaning these experiences held for me, until, when after entering Yosemite in the early morning before the sun struck the Merced, the granite slabs grew bigger and i just had to pull over.
I took some of Shyla's ashes with me and shimmied down the rocks to the riverside. The tears flowed at the loss of her, but it wasn't until i took my shoes off and my bare feet touched the huge boulders that the flood of memories of our experiences along the Rubicon flashed into my mind. It was like the granite held the memory of our experiences--or maybe it was my feet--but when they were reconnected, my connection to the sacredness of these experiences was reborn and i was instantly connected with Shyla again.
When i sat atop the lookout from Glacier Point and pondered how the ice flow helped form Half Dome and the rest of Yosemite Valley, i imagined that the granite remembered every piece of ice and water that shaved off its surface to create the form it is today. It would have to remember, i reasoned, because as the ice and water touched its surface, just like that of a river slowly wearing a rock away, it took a piece of the rock with it. Regardless of how small the piece of rock got, the memory of itself--its essence--was still there and all that touched it remained in its memory.
I believe it is that way for our bodies and our lives. Everything that we experience through our senses and emotions have touched us and a memory remains stored in our body. The granite experience helps me understand this as does the experience of tasting or smelling something i experienced in my early childhood that brings me right back to that place and time even 40+ years later.
This reconnection with the sacredness of my relationship with nature and Shyla was a profound gift that reverberates in my life today and reminds me of the importance of creating time and space for tactile engagement with nature.
I remember becoming aware of a sacredness on the land at the cabin where Shyla and i lived for 10 years. I asked Walter if he thought there was something special about the land where we lived or if it was just land itself. He thought it was any land--that it was nature herself. I have to agree with my good friend. When i make the effort to connect with the outdoors, where ever it's at, my groundedness and place in the world becomes sure and strong and a vibrancy and aliveness takes over my being.