Under the waxing half-moon, my first night in Chaco Canyon wrapped me like a knowing medicine, prescribing a dose of dirt and stars. Contently cradled, gazing up until the horizon coaxed my eyelids down, I entered into a state of dreaming remembrance:
I was sitting in the canyon. The sky was of the quality of lighting shared between dawn and dusk. I was tracing the transition of high sharp edges to low soft boulders. From behind one of the outcroppings near the canyon wall emerged a coyote and mountain lion; Their brown bodies a living extension of the brown rocks and brown earth.
Side by side, they began their approach towards me; Low heads and unison steps. A stilling awareness seated itself in my chest as I awaited their arrival.
There was no purr, sigh, or sound exchanged when the mountain lion laid its head on my lap and I began stroking its head or when the coyote brushed its mussel across my hand. Only their resounding inward cries of reunion could be perceived: "You have finally returned!"
We touched our heads together, breathing in a familiarity that was at once near to the soul and distant to the conscious mind, circumferenced by a knowing trust. I had been journeying for lifetimes, but they had been waiting for me - waiting to greet me, their old friend in our old canyon lands.
When I woke in the dirt the next morning I gazed longingly at the rocks where my reunion had been. The seat of soul awareness still lingered in my chest. Chaco had showed her magic to me; Greeted me with overlapping worlds and the spirits who keep her memories.
I walked the Chaco Canyon-lands that day, followed closely by ravens while contemplating the ceremonial kivas and petroglyphs; turning found pottery shards over in my palms. It was one of my first explorations into what makes a place feel sacred and how significance is bestowed through intuitive and emotional perceptions of space and objects. Primitive petroglyphs, I pondered, make visible ancient knowledge and symbolism that stir the internal subconscious mind while the act of stepping through remote ruin doorways inspires conscious reverence and wonder - Together they create more sacredness than I've found in most churches.
Like messengers of mysticism, the dream visitation from the mountain lion and coyote revealed the connections that still exist between our worlds; It is an experience that has granted me measure of sacredness and a way to feel the living presence that moves through a place; Inspiring a fuller inhalation of my existence in relation to what has come before. In this way ancient Chacoans left more than just physical remnants to be found in the canyon - They left an opportunity to approach what cannot be fully known through both seen and unseen forms.