The gorge is a magnificent sight. Jagged peaks rise straight from the ground below, a stunning contrast in front of the white clouds and blue sky. Formed by techtonic plates pushing up rock and millenia of wear from water and wind, the sheer faces of the peaks are unparalleled. Deep in the valley below water flows over rock emitting a constant roar, while small homes like tiny specks are swallowed by the towering mountains above. One road cut by machinery into the side of the rocks offers human visitors a fantastic and terrifying route through the gorge.
Some years ago I read writings of naturalist John Muir. One quote that stuck with me:
“One learns that the world, though made, is yet being made. That this is still the morning of creation. That mountains, long conceived, are now being born, brought to light by the glaciers, channels traced for coming rivers, basins hollowed for lakes.”
I was reminded of this when I stood in front of Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡) in China’s Yunnan province this past April. The mountains formed over time are still being formed.
The two nights I spent at the gorge were among the most peaceful during the two years I lived in China. I hiked with a friend, our view of the gorge and conversations still rining in my ears though months have since passed.
“Do I have to go back to Mianyang?” I wrote at the time, referencing my home in Sichuan, and normal life of teaching. Every moment at the gorge I soaked up like a sponge, alive in the moment, yet anticipating the stress awaiting my return.
It is still the morning of creation–and for that I am ever grateful to be alive and witness to this ancient process.