What do you like to do on your birthday? Be around family? Travel somewhere inspiring? Nice weather? There are so many options for you if you have the time and the resources.
I decided to travel to Sedona, Arizona. My immediate family is across the country in North Carolina. I didn’t have much time, a day and a half to be exact. I didn’t have much money, what with being a recent graduate who’s still on the search for that special something, while working a few part-time odd jobs just to scrape by. With this in mind, a 2-and-a-half-hour drive to Sedona seemed just in my short-armed reach.
Well, as per usual, practically nothing, hardly a single morsel, stayed true to the plan. I made this plan, tentative, to do a hike that was raved about on Google (the Brins Mesa trail), explore the peace park I’ve seen captured nicely on Instagram, head to a local brewery, and grab a delicious, but not over-priced dinner. Instead, the hike was packed to the brim, no parking for miles, something I found unexpected on December 27th, the day before my birthday. With pouts, grievances, and thoughts of what I’d miss, we head to the next things on my list: the Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park.
I was overjoyed to experience this park and it did not disappoint. Upon entering, the trail weaves through luscious trees garnished with waves of colored flags. Each flag had a peaceful message written on it, sure to bring serenity and harmony to one’s troubled mind and soul. The trail opens to a large clearing filled with a bronze buddha statue, a group of three spinning canisters with instructions to spin on your own in a circle, and offerings spread around. This place felt special to me. How many had stood in this exact spot? Wondered in this spot about peace, religion, hope, and anything that could cross a tired soul’s mind?
Waning through the trail among small benches under branches, more flags and trinkets, we stumbled straight into a trail. Well, it wasn’t the one I initially wanted, but I figured it’ll do. We weren’t sure the name of the trail, and where it led, but anywhere in Sedona has to be beautiful, right?
Right. This trail led us through and on top of the red rocks. Even one special huge rock with a simple climb up led us to a gloriously full view of the city and the rocks. Complete with a short and erratic dance party and some more scenery to make your jaw drop, we head back and decide to take another trail up called Chimney’s Pass. Two minutes into the hike we realized it was a bit more intense of an incline. But right at this moment, where we might have accepted defeat, a few snowflakes trickled in front of our faces. The first snowfall of the season in this dry, desert land. A gracious gift from God to give us that exuberance needed to complete the hike. A little divergence from the path led us up these skyscrapers for rocks with an even better viewing point.
Take me where people look like ants so I can remind myself how fragile life is, how every action might have a consequence, but does it really matter in the end? What really matters is the people you choose to spend this beautiful life with. Sedona was the perfect choice for birthday shenanigans, even though the ones I love most couldn’t be a part of my birthday, this was the next best thing.