Thursday April 06, 2006 @ 08:02 PM (UTC)

I took an out-of-town friend up the Gorge today, and we wended our pilgrim way from fall to fall, taking away photos, misty blessings, and newly waving hairstyles. We were both struck, standing in the susurrating roar of Latourell (first fall we found), at the strange shape of the place. Factually, actually this place has been carved out by millennia of busy water; fingers shaping, wearing, prying. But in the presence and immediacy of the spring-swollen waters, it does not seem a prosaic thing of friction and time.

The walls curve, great massy things of mossy basalt, hewn large and rough from the earth. They tease at the eye, falling in towards the wraith of water. So also does it seem that light falls, and gravity; reality itself making soft obeisance. These do not seem like places which work themselves softly out of the world of physics; they seem like temples sprung to life to house these falling gods.

I have studied my geology, and I know these places; sheltered Latourell and welcoming Wahkeena, the majestic plunge of Multnomah; are merely small tributary waters showing their chisels are much less busy than those of the mighty Columbia. I know the softly curving walls did not appear in reverence, but slowly crumbled into being over long years of water’s caress and ice’s invasion. I know that water is just the dance of polar molecules, drawing life and death’s debris over the globe in accordance with laws of physics and chemistry. I know that my eye interprets its falling disarray according to its own confused fancy, and no matter what shapes it seems to have, the water has no spirit and no life. But I cannot stand in such a place, kissed by the chill of the falling water, and swear I know no magic. I cannot tell you I am not on holy ground.

The plunge pool at Latourell


I think many of us know that sensation, but could not describe it so well.

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