A few weeks ago, my father and brother piled me in the car for a trip to South Mountain. It stands at the southern border of Phoenix proper, a long mountain in the valley that boast cell phone and broadcast towers. I'd wanted to visit since first arriving out here, but never found anyone to go with.
We climbed high, huffing and puffing, as my brother - 20 years old and full of energy - disappeared from view over the summit of the smaller mound we were climbing. At the top, I could see across all of Phoenix, over to the mountains on the other side, the crescent shape they create, almost cradling the city.
A bet was made - my brother headed to climb even higher as my father and I camped out on a rock jutting over the edge, the flat, even surface making for a perfect seat. While we waited, munching on trail mix, I wandered off to create a rock tower.
I don't know why I did it. Actually, I do. I've seen these on blogs over the years, the posts all spiritual and amazing, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. What does piling rocks have to do with anything? Why do it at all? I felt like a child building a sand castle while a bully watched -- would someone knock it down? Why make it if it wouldn't even be noticed?
Here's the thing they don't tell you -- finding the rocks is the best part. Scattered across the top of the smaller mountain were rocks of all sizes and colors, some more precariously placed that others. I went along trying to find the right size and shape to build the next level -- would this be flat enough to hold another above it? Or would it cause the whole thing to fall over?
And up there, atop a mountain, there's no sound but the rush of a gentle breeze. It's absolute peace. The longer I searched for rocks, the clearer my mind became. I was focused on my task. And when I finished, I sat on the ground and looked at it, thinking will someone else see this?
That's the point, I think. That someone else will walk up this mountain and see, among the nature-scattered shapes and plants and flowers, a little bit of connection to someone else. Manmade, yes, but not in the sense we usually think of -- this wasn't a human structure, an architectural monument to all we can create. It was simply rocks, built to honor a Higher Power, to show someone they are not alone in the world, that there are others out there even when the terrain is bleak and bleaching your very bones.
I found myself swaying to the rhythm of the mountain, reconnecting with nature, with myself, with the Divine. I sat and let myself not think before watching my brother become a dot atop a higher peak. I may not be able to make it up that high, but I can sit lower and appreciate the beauty around me and reassure those passing me on the path that imperfection is not only okay, it's the point.