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Lions Roar : November 2011
I HAVE A FRIEND, a native man from one of the Pueblo villages that sprout from the high desert of northern New Mexico. On various occasions Jacob and I have wandered out across this red land, trekking among the sparse, knot- ted shadows of juniper and piñon, letting the ultrama- rine of the desert sky roll across us in waves. Usually we walk in silence, allowing ourselves to be led by the track of hare or coyote, or by the widening banks of a meandering arroyo. Now and then we fall into conversa- tion. Yet I have noticed an odd contrast between us. If we are pondering some question as we saunter, and I happen to be visited by a new insight, I tend to announce that idea straightaway, with no interruption to our dialogue or the The Living Language Language is not a uniquely human possession, . Every bird, every rock face, every bend in the gushing stream carries the power of meaningful speech. Ultimately, says DAVID ABRAM, it is not we who speak— it’s the earth that speaks through us. rhythm of our walking. When a fresh insight strikes my friend, however, he first halts his steps in order (so I’ve learned) to listen inwardly to the thought. But then he gazes around him, noting where he is on the land, silently questioning the nearby trees, or the sandstone cliffs, or the clouds drifting overhead, in order to discern which entity it was that gifted him with that insight. Only when he has settled his attention upon a particular clump of sagebrush or noticed the ghosting presence of a small whirlwind stirring the dust nearby, and has matched the character of that presence, somehow, to the quality of the thought that just found him, only then does Jacob relax back into our walk, and maybe tell me something of that insight. PHOTOBYGENEHECHT