Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome,
dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
May your rivers flow without end,
meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells,
past temples and castles and poets’ towers
into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl,
through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock,
blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone,
and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm
where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs,
where deer walk across the white sand beaches,
where storms come and go
as lightning clangs upon the high crags,
where something strange and more beautiful
and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams
waits for you —
beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.
A powerful blessing from a controversial environmentalist and writer, who had a deep reverence and love for the deserts and the mountains that he knew intimately well through years of working as a seasonal park ranger for the American National Park Service. He’s not wishing us an easy journey but a challenging one that leads to something much more precious, ‘more full of wonder than your deepest dreams’. And that usually isn’t found at the end of a walk in a tame city park with mowed grass and tarmacked paths.
And in our practice too, let’s not wish only for ease and smooth experiences, when so much richness can be found in the places where our preferences are not met. Easy to say, harder to remember when the going gets tough… but as the Buddhist saying goes: ‘obstacles are the path’. And may it lead to something strange and beautiful!