View YouTube video/music/narrative version (tap image below). (Approx. 3 min.)
Fitzroy Mountain, seen in the first light of morning sunshine pouring across Argentina’s Patagonia, represents nature’s (not mankind’s) finest achievements all by itself. The rocks anchor the landscape, making a mighty curtain that serves up a variety of weather and visuals for the ranchers and communities scattered along its edge. Every continent has these enormous masses of chemicals, and I guess so does nearly every planet and galaxy in the universe.
Total Solar Eclipse, Bolivia
It is not a surprise, or shouldn’t be anyway, that we find ourselves attributing divine qualities to such earthy structures, in their infinite designs and formations. The aborigines of Australia prominently have celebrated the mystical qualities of the rocks that litter this planet. “Stone Dreamers” today have to compete with the rock climbers, mountaineers and trekkers who get their spiritual satisfaction from the act of conquering the heights, throwing rocks farther, skipping pebbles across the pond.
Joshua Tree National Monument, southern California
Images: Kakadu National Park, Darwin, Australia
And of course, around the world, the heights have been surmounted by human-inspired buildings put there to project majesty or power — i.e., the monastery or fortress, or both. The Potala Palace broods over Lhasa, Tibet, and is certainly a wonder of the world; a human construction like the pyramids and the great cathedrals, mosques and temples of Europe and Asia. Its keynote inhabitants, though, were expelled. The structure’s religious significance is diminished, but its commercial prospects are flourishing. The spiritual Dalai Lama was transformed into a mere political Grand Lama, a ghost in an exile orchestrated by more modern secular interests perpetrated by government and media.
Despite the controversies that are invariably sparked by such religious artifacts, the likes of monks, lamas, preachers and popes, imams and rabbis, are needed to nudge us pilgrims along from time to time when our enthusiasm for the journey wanes.