I read another great chapter in the book, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, https://milkweed.org/book/braiding-sweetgrass. The chapter was titled, The Honorable Harvest. She talks about receiving.

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself.  Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life.
Ask permission before taking.  Abide by the answer.
Never take the first.  Never take the last.
Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half.  Leave some for others.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully.  Never waste what you have taken.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.

These words resonated with me and I pondered them for quite a while. Right before we went to Canyon de Chelly, some one asked me if I was going to take pictures. That was a very normal question but I was struck by the word, “take”. It went clunk. Would I go into this place and “take”? I started to consider how else I might approach this trip and, in the end, I decided that my intention would be to receive the images in whatever form they chose to arrive.

As I let my imagination loose on this way of thinking/being, I considered how I saw myself in relation to this place. Was I this sentient being who would enter and exit this static ‘place’? Or, is it possible that I would engage with this place? – that we (this place and I) would breathe each other in and out? Would we effect and be effected by each other’s presence? So, it was in this spirit, that I received these images and I am profoundly grateful for them and to the canyon and to our guide, Howard, who held the space.

The rock art was inspiring. Howard shared his and his people’s views of some of the images. He described the horizontal zig-zag design as a description of life with it’s ups and downs – as one way of life ends, another starts. He returned to that theme many times on the tour especially when referencing with old ways of his people and the new ways of current times. In the picture below, the outline of a person represented one who was still alive on the earth. The subsequent filled in drawings of people were of the elders who had died and who’s spirits were still present.

Phases of the Moon
Mineral deposits or echoes of the Ancestors?

Being in the canyon was very moving. Rock cliffs lift almost 1,000 feet straight up. The presence of that much rock, with its own unique elemental vibration was palpable. It was above, below and all around me. I felt the deep solid peace of the place while being present to the horrors of death and destruction that occurred here to the Navajo, the Spaniards and the US troops.

Spider Rock

According to Navajo legend, Spider Woman lives at Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly.  She was first to weave the web of the universe. She taught the Navajo how to weave, how to create beauty in their own life and to spread the “Beauty Way” teaching of balance within the mind, body & soul. To learn more about Spider Woman, click here https://www.navajorug.com/blogs/news/spider-rock-center-of-the-navajo-nation

As Larry mentioned in Part 1, the canyon has been inhabited for over 5,000 years. The remains of the structures are a testament to the builders’ skill and to their artistry.

So, the trip to Canyon de Chelly was a deeply moving one for me. I feel that the canyon gave way more to me than I would ever return to her. I give thanks to the canyon, to Howard our guide, to our new friends, Donn and Judy who explored with us and to my ever trusty travel mate, Larry.


  1. So beautifully photographed and written. It has been 25 years since I’ve been to Canyon de Chelly, and I would love to return.

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