Have you ever been to Sedona Arizona? Its got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is often referred to as “Red Rock Country” because of the giant red rock monoliths, buttes, and spires that dot its landscape.These incredible creations of nature rise hundreds of feet into the air and give Sedona a breathtaking, almost other-worldly feel. Panoramic views of these incredible rock formations are visible in every direction and give one a sense of humbling tranquility much like your first Grand Canyon experience. Simply amazing!
Millions of years ago the area in and around Sedona was covered by an ocean and the red rock buttes of today were sandbars and islands protruding up from its floor. Over time, the sea receded and layered the sediment. Wind and water erosion did the rest, creating these astoundingly beautiful natural sculptured wonders. Their crimson red color is due to ferrous oxide in the sandstone which causes the formations to appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. Truly incredible!
I currently have the pleasure of being in Sedona vacationing with my wife and some of our closest friends. Today is our 4th day full day here. It’s awesome! I first heard about Sedona back in the 70’s when some of our Shalom friends went to Sedona to the Spiritual Life Institute for a retreat.
Under the guidance of Fr. William McNamara they had “a desert experience” an excursion of solitude out under the desert stars to find relief from worldly distractions. Retreats at the hermitage offered an antidote to the fast paced, materialistic everyday life. Father McNamara is one of the most influential spiritual writers and mystics of the 21st century. He is the founder of the Spiritual Life Institute and though considered elusive, mysterious and highly controversial, he has touched millions of lives through retreats, spiritual conferences personal counseling and more than a dozen books on Christian mysticism. He firmly believes that contemplation is for everyone not just monks in monasteries because one’s primary human relationship must be with God.
I remember when I spoke to my friend Bob upon his return from Sedona, he seemed to be on fire with a renewed sense of faith and was deeply touched by what McNamara called “the glorious rawness of the environment.” He said he had learned much from the silence and living close to nature and urged me to share the experience. He and his new group Parousia went on to record a beautiful Sedona inspired album called Sedona. Although the entire album is good, three songs have managed to stay with me all these years, “Your Steadfast Love,” “Sedona” and “Passion Father” a song about Father McNamara.
My first Sedona experience was in 1987 when I came hers for one day with my family while on vacation. It was even more beautiful than Bob said it was. We loved it and vowed to come back and actually stay in Sedona, but twenty-two years passed before we finally returned. That time we spent a week here and it was truly awesome. Unfortunately the little town of Sedona that I remembered had changed greatly in twenty years, from a small village to a sprawling town of more than ten thousand. We stayed in a condo in the downtown area so there were always a lot of people around. Still Sedona’s incredible beauty was breathtaking and we had a wonderful stay. We also discovered that like Parousia sang, Sedona is the place where the stars come to sleep. I urge anyone who hasn’t had the Sedona experience to do so as soon as possible. It’s something you don’t want to miss.
This summer we are back again.This time around we have rented a house that is about 6 miles from downtown. We’re sort of tucked away and have loads of privacy. Our view here is incredible! As for neighbors I have yet to see one in the immediate vicinity around the house. It is truly awesome! It is peaceful and quiet and we all are good enough friends that we respect each others space and needs. We can all truly be ourselves, we do things together and we do things on our own, which makes for a beautiful relationship. Good friends surrounded by God’s natural red rock wonders and the star filled heavens above! Who could ask for more than that for a vacation? Certainly not me….