December 12, 2006

Arizona: Let your spirit soar in Sedona

Bell Rock

We continued our drive along Route 179 towards Sedona city proper which was just minutes away. Up ahead, I caught my first glimpse of Bell Rock and my heart skipped a beat. Its fiery hues in the shape of a bell (hence the name) loomed over us as we approached it slowly. I’m glad I wasn’t driving or I would have probably driven us off the road. Without looking away, I reached into my bag and blindly groped for my camera and freed it from its case. I managed to take a couple of pictures before it disappeared behind us. Beautiful!

This was just a teaser, the amuse bouche before le plat principal.

Sedona is a budding artist colony. Some of America's most talented and respected artists are featured in the wealth of galleries around town and in places like Hillside. Here we browsed beautiful and unique works of art in oil, watercolor, acrylic, ceramic, clay, bronze and silver. A visitor to Sedona will immediately understand this bounty of talent.

The scenery here has the ability to inspire, perhaps even stick-figure drawers like me. Actually I might be a hopeless case. But there is so much natural art here and being in the midst of all this beauty is so uplifting. So much in fact that later, as I stood by the Chapel of the Holy Cross surrounded by all this blazing glory, I thought I was going to burst into song. (Don't worry I didn't, thank God. Can you imagine if I did?!)

View of the valley from the Chapel of the Holy Cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was designed and built in 1956 by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built directly into a butte and offers the most dramatic view of the valley 200 ft. below. Inside, the chapel is dim. What little light there is comes from candles in red votives and the fading sunlight streaming in through the all-glass wall behind the altar. To the left are stairs that lead down to a gift shop.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

But what most people really come here for is the 360° view from the plaza in front of the chapel. The sweeping vista is simply stunning! Also, if you look closely at the natural rock formations on the hillside nearby, you will see two similary shaped rock pillars dubbed "the Two Nuns". To the left of that is the unmistakable image of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus, the Madonna & Child. This is the image you will find in countless Sedona-inspired prints and paintings. These ones Sheila pointed out to me.

Madonna & Child (center) and the Two Nuns (right)

What I proudly discovered all on my own was the image of an eagle's head which seemed to be sculpted directly out of the hill. The photo on the left below is how it looked from where we stood and on the right is the zoomed in photo. Isn't that neat?!

Can you see the eagle head?

Sheila suggested we have lunch in Tlaquepaque (tuh-lah-kee-pah-kee), a quaint stucco-walled and cobble-stoned village of shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. Not to be confused with the Tlaquepaque in the Jalisco region of Mexico, though this place may have been patterned after it. The sun streamed through the branches of the sycamore trees and onto outdoor patios where diners feasted on Mexican or French cuisine. I finally succumbed to the temptation of buying two prints from one of the galleries, I plan to hang these in the powder room of my future house.

She left it up to me to decide on a place to eat so I chose the Secret Garden Cafe, just a few yards away from the courtyard fountain. It turned out to be as enchanting as it sounds. We went directly to the outdoor patio the day was too beautiful to waste indoors. Wrought iron chairs were draped with warm woven blankets for diners to wrap around themselves should it start to get chilly.. I ordered the corn chowder which was excellent (I want to duplicate this) and the chicken salad. We enjoyed our meal in this serene garden setting shaded by lush foliage.

Sedona is the spiritual mecca for new-age folk. The whole area is said to be saturated with energy from vortexes - a funnel of spiraling energy coming from deep within the earth. Twisted juniper tree branches are an indication of where the energy is strongest.

It is no surprise then that there are many psychics here. Would you like to have your aura photographed or get your chakra balanced? Fancy a past-life regression? Or how about a regular psyshic reading? You can have all this done and more at the Center for the New Age, just across from Tlaquepaque. The center has a wide range of books on this particular subject matter, pamphlets explaining the power of the vortexes and maps to the strongest points, healing crystals and the like.

Sheila insisted on sponsoring a psychic reading for me so I obliged. Concetta (5th person down the list on the link) was warm and friendly, not at all what I expected. She led us into her little retreat upstairs where we sat on comfy chairs covered in pink satin and scattered with velvety throw pillows. A light breeze carried the soothing sound of the creek outside through her window. What happened next was more like a conversation between friends rather than a psychic reading. She told me nothing I hadn't already heard from countless psychics and coffee readers (yes, I went to a coffee reader twice) before her, but most if not all were head-on. She was indeed insightful, however I've long forgotten what it was she told me.

People visit Sedona for many different reasons. Some come to frolic in this big outdoor playground and hike the monoliths, some to get away from it all and to relax and be pampered in one of the many spas, some on a spiritual journey come for the vortexes, the healing energy that comes from within the earth that Sedona is well-known for. While many still, like me, come for the spectacular scenery, the pure natural beauty. But whatever your purpose for visiting this magical place, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Sedona isn't a place, it is an experience.

Chapel of the Holy Cross
780 Chapel Rd, Sedona, AZ
+1 928 282-4069

Tlaquepaque Shopping Center

336 Hwy 179, Sedona, AZ

Secret Garden Cafe
Tlaquepaque, Sedona AZ
+1 928 203 9564

Center for the New Age
+1 928 282 2085


Robert Simms said...

Hi Christine, I came across your blog earlier and when I saw the photos from Arizona I thought that you might be the person in Tucson who has been looking at the site and blog.
I raelly like the photos.If you don't mind, I will put a link to your blog on my blog and the Internet page of the website.

Oggi said...

Your photos and description of Sedona are beautiful. You should write a travelogue.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I felt like I was right there with you (I wish!) :)

christine said...

Hi rts, thank you for dropping by. I would love to be added to your website. It's a blog about my most favorite Philippine city, so it would be an honor! :)

Oggi and Jo, thank you so much! :) I was really worried about not doing justice to the experience, I still don't think I conveyed it as it deserved to be but that'll have to suffice. :)

Anonymous said...

i'd love to visit sedona, arizona! not only does it boast fantabulous sceneries, it is also the hometown of michelle branch who is one of the musicians i look up to!

christine said...

Ohh I like Michelle Branch too, I didn't know she was from there. For some reason I assumed she was from Canada. No idea why. Maybe I mix her up with Sarah McLachlan sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Awesome piece on Sedona! Along with Michelle Branch, another phenom artistic luminary from Sedona is Scarlett Lanson. She's an awesome winning jewelry designer. Check her out in Beadwork Magazine, starting in Oct. / Nov. Hope you visit Sedona, again!

christine said...

I've never heard of Scarlett but will definitely check her out. Thanks for the tip! :)

firstmonsoon said...

Hey there,

I found this blog while doing an image search for 'Son Silver West'. I spent my winter holiday in Sedona this year with a whole bunch of friends and pretty much went to all the same places! Nice blog :)

ilchi lee current news said...

The purpose of a spiritual journey may be curiosity, trying to know what lies in the realm of the spirits. But more than curiosity the person undergoing a spiritual journey wants to enjoy life to the fullest possible that he can attain.