Saturday, September 15, 2012

Grief in the Garden

I was not the only tourist this past Thursday morning exploring Colorado Spring’s most famous Garden of the Gods. I walked the gardens as a happy tourist, taking in the beauty of both the foreground and the background:

I could simply write about the beauty in walking the inner garden, or hiking the outer loop trails, or sitting on the veranda of the Visitor’s Center and taking it all in.  I could emphasize that all this beauty is provided by the host city at no charge to the visitor.  But I would be ignoring the price of walking these grounds if you bring a pondering soul. 
It does not surprise me that the ancients found God in the mountains.  But in these rocks I found a spirit of humanity; a grouping of mortals coming together to share some grief.  I don’t think every person experiences grief.  All of us experience loss at some time in our lives; and all of us have known some level of pain, and hurt and suffering.  But grief seems to require a willingness to embrace a deep pain to the point of owning it.  And when a community comes together to grieve, it can be a holy experience—set apart from the daily routine of lives moving forward.

It was this particular rock formation that captured my thoughts since visiting the god’s garden.  I saw in it a grieving community of seemingly timeless humans, portrayed by Mother Nature in the simplicity of these weathered rocks.  In this rock formation I saw the bowed heads; the prayerful mourning; the leaning of one on another; the gnashing of teeth:

And somehow we humans found a way to turn the meaning of grief on its ear.  Or perhaps we found a way to fully embrace grief with a spirit of lightheartedness; a reminder not to take ourselves or our ponderings too seriously.  We found our release in the simplicity of two unlikely words grouped together and expressed by beloved cartoon characters.  With a simplicity and complexity that speaks volumes:  “Good Grief!


  1. Isn't it strange how an abstract shape can inspire such complex thoughts? I'm reminded of an episode of Star Trek Voyager, in which Tuvok said: "I will never understand the human need to find imagery in something as innocuous as a cloud." The other members of the bridge crew were discussing what objects they "saw" in a nebula.

    A thought to consider: sandstone formations such as these are survivors. At one time they were not distinct from the surrounding rock, which has since been slowly eaten away. They are a temporary testament to a vast sedimentary formation, which was itself the only record of an ancient time gone by. Go back next year and these formations will have met their inevitable fate, but from them will be born new formations that are today mere imaginings of the wind.

    If you see human forms in the formations, do you see heads bowed in defiance of expectations? Or do you see figures consumed by survivor's guilt?

    -Love on the High Plains

  2. The High Plains One made me reflect on my own human experience with day dreams of cloud formations, water cascades, and yes rock formations. I saw grief in this formation when others might see defiance or guilt or even submission. I see grief as an extension of human thirst for eternity. A sense of pausing to express, through a bowed head, or through a forehead pressed to another's forehead, that grief requires an expression of our longing for that which we have lost. Your comment was a gift.


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