All that is required to distinguish between the mundane and the sacred is that we expend the effort to clear our minds and witness reality to the best of our ability. Through the efforts of the Back Country Land Trust, Alpine residents Nina Gould, Joyce Moffat, and many others, we were able to create an event to celebrate the innate sacred nature of Alpine's Wright's Field. This hilly area contains a section of the Butterfield Stage Coach run, many native plants and animals, and is home to beautiful mountain streams which appear and disappear with each rain. For all of the peacefulness of the land, it is also an embattled site.
A real estate developer in the area continues a campaign to rezone Wright's Field in order that he may profit by building more homes. It was the belief of all who collaborated on this event that what would be lost by such "development" was of far greater value than what would be gained in the short-term. Wright's Field is on an incline and can only be approached by foot, signaling a certain level of commitment to all who enter. On the day of the event a fifty foot high gate of bamboo and satin was erected. Visitors were welcomed and given two items; a blindfold and a colored ribbon. All were encouraged to write a prayer, memorial, or wish, on the colored ribbon and were told that this ribbon could later be woven into our collective experience.
A few steps past a gateway of gold and red fabric were bells suspended from tripods made of bamboo. Participants were invited to sound these temple bells to announce their presence on the land - and within themselves. A bit further on the path was a wind wheel where their prayer ribbons were fastened; an offering to the Wind and to the Sky Father.
As the rocky path guided us closer to the installation, the path provided opportunities for us to remain mindful of each step we take on the earth. Here we placed a wooden barrel and a ladle. At this point, visitors were invited to make an offering to the earth; symbolically and tangibly, they were able to give something back to the earth mother who continues to nurture all of us from cradle to grave.
Only slightly ahead of the setting sun sun, we gathered as a group. All were thanked for participating and to put on their blindfold for five minutes and to listen, in stillness, to the sounds all around us. When the conch shell was sounded, we removed our blindfolds and dancers slowly materialized from their hiding places.
Using objects fabricated from natural and man-made materials, performers created sounds which lead us into our personal and collective experience. Steven Garcia's breath animated his hand-carved wooden flute and music guided the performers, who moved gracefully across the field. As dusk gave way to night under the patient eye of the moon, the dancers activated the lights that painted everything seen, unseen, and imagined, with moving light.
As the dancers melted back into the native brush trees which first hid them, we were left to experience the moving luminous energy which brought us all together. Within the beauty of the nature, we were able to enter a special part of our world as we allowed our thoughts to flow across the uneven landscape unimpeded by interruptions of buildings, roads, or the handiwork of man.
When the performers approached for their bows, the applause transitioned us back to a world that was not quite the same. Changed, because we were no longer the same. I have never been with a group of people more still, more focused in the moment than that evening; a memory I will long treasure. As everyone made their way through the darkened paths back to their cars with flashlights in hand, my heart overflowed with gratitude. Following the path back to day-to-day lives, I hoped that a new appreciation for the transformative power of the natural landscape, the philosopher's stone of silence, and gratitude for the moment, would live on far past this special evening, and help keep Wright's Field open, free, and special.
Sacred Sky Sacred Earth,
Alpine California April, 2007