Celebration

Joe Neely | Monument Valley

The following appeared in the December 1982 issue of Arizona Highways.

Long ago, upon a Judean desert, a small band of men journeyed through the night ... compelled as they were to follow a star of such magnitude as to be distinguished by its brilliance among the infinite sparkling canopy overhead. The chill evening air must have been no less comforting than the vast desert, seemingly as endless as the heavens above. Thornbushes and brambles slowed their passing, while the horizon yielded greater and greater distances. Their quest was realized by an encounter, held by much of the world for almost two millennia as the blending of the infinite and the finite. The essence of creation, bound up in a single newborn babe. A meeting perhaps of the eternal and temporal schemes of life.

Life itself is the celebration of this Christmas season.

Within the vast and dramatic Arizona landscape it is difficult to remain unaware of the natural beauty that enriches our lives. The dimensions of our land seem to stretch the powers of our senses to absorb it all. Towering red sandstone monoliths, enormous, deep, rugged canyons, carpets of desert flowers, and shimmering watery sanctuaries present overwhelming evidence of creation beyond the powers of mankind. Immersed as we are in the miracle of our surroundings, we can easily fall into either a sense of meaninglessness for our own existence or an arrogance of false mastery by merely cataloging our observations.

It would seem, however, that a middle road of acceptance of what is, leads us to the greatest miracle of all ... our very existence. For truly, in the entire scheme of creation, man has been placed in a most unique position to both utilize and appreciate. To deny our own special existence within the massive flow of creation is to deny all that our senses encounter ... the serenity of gray-blue dusk, the excitement of a sunset's colorful crescendo, the sparkling powder of stars in a black velvet sky. Fresh snow, a warming sun, the last fall leaf, the first flower of spring.

Other miracles also bring meaning to our lives ... watching a family of deer grazing at the meadow's edge is enriched by the quiet closeness of our own family. An unexpected letter from an old friend mirrors the rainbow on a stormy afternoon. The scent of pine boughs and candlelight of this season is punctuated by the laughter of children and the warm embrace of friends. Together, all these images and feelings become today's unfolding life.

There are as many ways and reasons for celebration as there are experiences and living creatures. Within these pages of your Christmas card from Arizona, all of us share the celebration. Through art mediums, film, and words these images are expressions of life. Some names are new, some most familiar, but all are bound up in a love for where we are, for as we wander through this blessed land, miracles surround us at this time of celebration.

— Gary Avey, Editor

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