An Encounter in the Gila Wilderness
I was driving west on NM Highway 152 through the Gila National Park, New Mexico, headed for Silver City with my closest friend. Neither of us had ever been in this part of the country before, and we were drinking in the scenery and enjoying our first ‘road trip’ together in our 25+-year friendship. Not another car in sight, the fresh mountain air drifting in through the open car windows as we drove along, carrying the scent of high desert spring.
Up ahead, a small dirt track led off the road to the left, headed down into the forest – we veered off the highway and down the track, stopping in a clearing above a shallow valley with a small stream meandering its way amongst the rocks on the valley floor. We got out of the car and scrambled down to the stream, and walked along its bank for a few minutes before stopping to sit in the sun by a rock pool.
And then it happened.
Time seemed to stop.
I could hear the sound of the water flowing, a breeze passed through the trees and reached out to caress my neck. A spider came out of the shade to sit beside me on my sunlit rock, and we knew each other as if recognizing a long-lost friend. In the air around me, darting points of light shimmered and danced, brushing my skin with tiny, whistling electric buzzes as they made contact. I glanced at the stream, and countless more living lights leapt and shimmered out of the water, as if greeting me by expressing their pure delight at my presence.
It was as if I lost all of my ‘edges’ – the boundary between my human body and my surroundings seemed to dissolve and I felt myself blend into the world around me. Naturally, blissfully, beautifully and effortlessly. I was blessed -- connected to life, to this place, to something infinite and beyond my imagining. In that timeless space in the forest, I was given the greatest gift I could ever receive – to know who and what I truly was. I would never be separate or alone in this world, on this Earth, again. We were, we are, the same -- parts of the whole, eternally connected.