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Backpacking with the SaintsWilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice$
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Belden C. Lane

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927814

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199927814.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2021

Fear: The Maze in Canyonlands and John of the Cross

Fear: The Maze in Canyonlands and John of the Cross

9 (p.113) Fear: The Maze in Canyonlands and John of the Cross
Backpacking with the Saints

Belden C. Lane

Oxford University Press

It’s one thing to wake up in the middle of the night to an imagined terror. It’s another thing to be wide awake and feel the hand of fear creeping up your spine. Camping alone one winter night above Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, I heard (or did I dream I heard?) scratching on the wall of the tent and the heavy breathing of an animal outside in the snow. I was so frightened I couldn’t voice the scream stifled in my throat. Or was it in my dream that I wasn’t able to make any sound? On waking I wasn’t sure what had or hadn’t happened—or whether it was all in my mind. An even more uncanny experience came on another moonlit night in the depths of the Maze in Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. A friend and I had walked a mile down the canyon from our campsite, under the shadow of the towering walls within that vast winding labyrinth. Hiking in the light of a full moon without flashlights, we felt a sense of wild, animal abandonment. With reckless exuberance we’d been howling like wolves at the moon. But then we found ourselves standing before a canyon wall covered with ancient figures painted by archaic artists some two thousand years ago. These were spirit beings standing vigil—long, ethereal shadows hovering on the surface of the rock. Whether they were guarding, witnessing, or offering protection, I didn’t know. But in the hollowed-out world of moonlight and shadow that formed the Maze, I sensed the presence of something I couldn’t name. It’s a place about as far away from other people as you can get in the lower forty-eight, yet for an instant I had an uncanny awareness of a finger lightly touching me on the back of the neck. I’d been taken into a profoundly deeper meaning of fear. Three days earlier we had driven seven hours from the Hite Marina on Lake Powell along a tortuous dirt road, part of the old Flint Trail. It was a belly-scraping, wheel-spinning, bronco-twisting ride, with hairpin turns around huge boulders and narrow rocky ledges.

Keywords:   Carmelites, Death, Enneagram, Monasticism, Native Americans, Spirituality, bears, experience, fear

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