At the top of the mountain I could feel a spiritual peace

Published 6:21 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The parking area was unmarked, barely enough room for a dozen cars. The only instructions I had was that it was about halfway up the very steep road to the airport. Although Mary Lou and I arrived more than an hour before sundown, we got the very last parking space.

Together we climbed a very rocky, steep trail to the top of what might be called a mountain in southwest Georgia, but in Sedona, Ariz., was just the top of a knoll or hill. After waiting almost an hour, with just a handful of people around us, we experienced one of most extraordinary sunsets of our lives.

Sedona is known for the sandstone cliffs surrounding the town. These particular colors in the rocks are found nowhere else on Earth. As the sun sets, the light reflects off the red rock, providing a stunning spectacle. People are drawn from around the world to watch the sunset in this place; only they face east, not west. The show is about the sun beaming against the mountains, not setting behind them.

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There really aren’t words to describe how beautiful this area is, until you have seen it. The views change with each turn in the road. Even sitting still brings different views as the angle of the sunlight changes during the day.

The spot we were on was one of the few vortexes located in the area. All of us have seen a vortex of one kind or another. A whirlpool in a river or water spinning as it goes down the drain is an example of a vortex. A vortex is created from spiraling motion of air or liquid around a center of rotation, like a tornado.

In Sedona, vortexes are thought to not be created by wind or water, but rather by spiritual energy. A Sedona vortex is believed to be a spiritual location where the energy is right to facilitate prayer, mediation and healing. The top of the mountain we were on was said to be a Sedona vortex site.

I must admit that I have never been one to believe in metaphysical experiences. Certain rocks and crystals have no meaning to me beyond their look and feel. Massages, aided by certain oils, fragrances or stones might relax your body, but I have never thought them to be any link between my mind and reality.

Sedona is a far different place from where we live. Coincidentally, there was a psychic expo going on in town as we were visiting. There are literally dozens of businesses, such as meditation centers and retreats, counseling centers, and massage therapy locations seeking to provide personal and spiritual growth.

Advertised services include past-life regression, advanced astrology, herb walks, psychic readings, yoga and vortex tours. Everything is supposedly geared to enhancing your spiritual life and becoming one with nature.

My own spiritual life is solid and grounded in my own beliefs. However, I could not dismiss everyone I met or talked with as being crazy. Almost without exception I felt like these were people seeking a peace in their life. Who am I to judge them for actively hunting spiritual healing and growth even if I don’t understand or agree with their method?

I must admit that sitting on the top of that mountain I could feel a spiritual presence and peace as nature’s beauty shown all around me. People of all faiths and beliefs became quiet as they sensed the awesome power of the moment.

The hues of the rocks changed from red to orange, to brown and white. The sculptures that nature forged over millions of years changed and yet remained the same just as they always seem to do.

The light became darker as the rocks became brighter. In every direction there was something I could not adequately capture with my camera or my words.

Sedona may have been the site of my most beautiful sunset, but it is not the only place I have felt the same tranquility and peace. Times like that reinforce my faith but they do not define it.

Man takes many different paths in his search for the truth. My peace comes from knowing that by God’s grace I am made whole. Occasionally He takes me to the mountaintop and I remember I don’t have to search any more. The truth has set me free.

Dan Ponder can be reached at