It’s not very often I get to use the words blissful and BuMPy in the same sentence. But then we’ve never enjoyed a blissful early morning, open air, BuMPy ride in the bed of a pickup truck through the back country of Monumental Valley National Park, escorted by our exceedingly gracious Navajo guide Myron Red Mustache. From the rim, our six hundred foot descent was a slow motion red sandstone slalom of hairpin turns punctuated with epic potholes. We were grateful for welded roll bars to grip and lightly padded bench seats as we learned to sit on one cheek, allowing our pelvises to absorb the teeth rattling jolts rather than our spines. Surprising how harmonious both our backs felt after three and half BuMPy hours touring the beauty of the valley with its mesas, buttes, spires, arches and window rocks.

Deep in the back country we stopped at Sun’s Eye, a window rock at the top of a deep alcove. Our guide encouraged us to recline on the sloping, shaded sandstone and gaze up at the intensely blue sky through the almond shaped hole. While we rested in the immense silence of the desert, Myron sang two songs in Navajo, composed in the moment, in gratitude for the beauty about us – God with Us and Beauty.

Further out in the back country he spoke fondly of the summers he spent with his brother herding sheep. Left for two months by themselves, they spent the days tending the sheep, hunting for food, and thoroughly enjoying themselves. He reminisced about catching, skinning and roasting prairie dogs stuffed with peppers and corn. There was a slight sadness in his voice as he shared his children would probably never know that same kind of beautiful being in such complete harmony with the earth. A balanced life of beauty and harmony the Navajos call hozho.

Alas, Monument Valley is also John Wayne country as many of his movies were filmed here. I am not a great fan of Wayne’s which Myron said put me in a distinct minority of folks visiting the park. So much so that some insist a series of slender spires named The Three Sisters is a W (for Wayne) instead. Not so much harmony for me on that one.

At another stop along the wide ruts atop sandy dunes, Myron swept his arm toward a distant mesa and recounted the making of next year’s new movie The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. A bit incredulous at the casting, I asked if Depp was really playing the Lone Ranger. “No,” said Myron, “he’s playing Tonto…”

“Gosh, what do you think about that?”

Like the nearly monosyllabic responses of Jay Silverheel’s Tonto, Myron replied, “No comment.” Not so much harmony for him either.

We’ve traveled around the Southwest before, but we were a bit more intentional this trip having been influenced by the Tony Hillerman mysteries of Navajo policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Over the months we began reading more widely about the Navajo culture and religion, and the importance in Navajo life of harmony. Our morning exploring Monument Valley with a Navajo guide who deeply shared the beauty and harmony of this incomparable place, his respect and spiritual connection to Mother Earth and the Ancient Ones, and his generous sharing of the values and relationships he holds dear were a special experience. Despite the BuMPy BuMPy ride, we concluded our tour with a sense of balance, many moments of beauty, and a deep sense of harmony. A bit of bliss not far from the Bistie Badlands.

If there has been a place in your life that has been both blissful and BuMPY, what would you say about it? Where and how have you found balance in your life that leaves you with a sense of harmony? Name three places of beauty that fill you with a sense of harmony. What would be the song of gratitude you sing?

Looking forward to hearing about your bliss and BuMPs, and how harmony happens for you.

4 comments to Harmony

  • Deanna Bowling

    Beautiful piece. What a great opportunity to explore what you have been reading about.

  • Jan

    Oh, Lynne, this describes my life right now. My 37yo son, separated from his wife of 14 years and his 11- and 9-year-old children, has moved in with me and my guy for a period. Life is bumpy as I relive my divorce from his father and watch the same hurts that happened to me then happening to him now. But it’s blissful as I am able to provide this “soft place to fall” for him and give him a sounding board and a warm bed as he attempts to figure out where his life goes next.

    Life: always full of surprises!

  • Great piece. Life is bliss and bumpy everywhere. It’s just accepting that for me….that’s the hard part.

  • Robin Rice

    Monument Valley has special memories for me too. We traveled there years ago and camped. After the best horse trip of my life, we invited the wrangler to have dinner for us. He loved my sister’s dutch oven lamb stew and told us tales of his childhood. He had been “taken” away by Mormons to be raised “civilized.” As an adult he returned to the Valley to embrace his Navajo heritage. The next day I was able to spend time with a woman and her daughter who sold bead necklaces in the campground. As I had my beads with me, we spent several hours working together and traded . . . I coveted the juniper beads they had collected and she was happy to have some of my glass beads from San Francisco. Another special connection in this wonderful place.
    Since that time I have been back to the Southwest over and over. . . last year for a six week road trip. I’m planning another “Quest” next April. It is such a magical place for me to write.
    Robin Martinez Rice

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