The Chapel of the Holy Cross and Boynton Canyon… Two Sedona Icons

Church of Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

While Sedona is known for its spectacular colors, I felt this black and white rendition of Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross emphasized the dramatic look of the church in its natural setting.

Peggy and I have seen numerous beautiful churches in our wandering around the world over the years, but few have matched the simple beauty of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. Rarely do buildings reflect the areas where they are built so dramatically. (I would place the Greek Orthodox churches on the island of Santorini in such a category.)

Another perspective on the Church of the Holy Cross, this time emphasizing its colorful surroundings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Another perspective on the Chapel of the Holy Cross, this time emphasizing its colorful surroundings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

An inside view of the Church of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Inside, looking out.

Madonna and Child rock formation in Sedona, Arizona.

Surrounding rock formations are also impressive, as they are throughout Sedona. This one is appropriately known as the Madonna and Child. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

View of rock formations near Church of Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A distant shot of the Madonna and Child (in the center).

We found this cactus on the road going up to the Church of the Holy Cross. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

We found this cactus on the road going up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

A local rancher from Sedona, Marguerite Staude, commissioned the church. Inspired by the Empire State Building, she had originally wanted to build the church in Hungary. When World War II aborted her plans, she decided to build the church in her hometown. Barry Goldwater helped Staude obtain a special land use permit to build the church on national forest land. It cost $350,000, took 18 months to build, and was completed in 1956. The American Institute of Architects gave the church its Award of Honor in 1957.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

John Muir

While I understand the importance of churches in people’s faith, I tend to agree with John Muir in terms of my own spiritual path. A quiet walk in the woods has always made me feel at peace with myself. Seen from this perspective, Boynton Canyon in Sedona is good for the soul.

It’s also a great place to hang out with friends— and a camera.

A view up Boynton Canyon in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

One of many of the views Peggy and I, along with our friends, Ken and Leslie Lake, enjoyed on our walk up Boynton Canyon.

Boynton Canyon rock formation in Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A close up of the same knob as a black and white photo. Note the various patterns in the rock.

The wilderness sign warned people they might find a bear wandering around in the canyon. While most people might find this worrisome, I was looking forward to it. No such luck.

The wilderness sign warned people they might find a bear wandering around in the canyon. While most people might find this worrisome, I was looking forward to seeing one. No such luck.

Rock formation in Boynton canyon, Sedona Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Another dramatic rock formation. I liked the light and dark contrast.

Black and white photo by Curtis Mekemson of a rock formation in Boynton Canyon.

The contrast is even more powerful from a black and white perspective. Check out the halo of light on top.

Face-like rock formation in Boynton Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Always on the lookout for faces, I named this open-mouthed fellow, Scream. Maybe he had seen the bear.

Colorful walls of Boynton Canyon, Sedona reflected in the sun.

At one point, the sun reflected off the canyon wall like it was glowing with life. This is the natural color as we saw it.I had never seen anything like it. No wonder the New Agers think of Boynton Canyon with awe. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Native American cliff dwellings found in Boynton Canon in Sedona, Arizona.

At several points along Boynton Canyon, we saw where Native Americans had once built cliff dwellings. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Photo by Curtis Mekemson of a grinning rock formation in Sedona, Arizona.

This formation seemed to be grinning at me. Or maybe it was hungry. I know, I know… I have an overactive imagination.

Rock formation in Sedona Arizona.

This rock formation looked like an ancient fortress. I wonder if the Native Americans ever used it at such? On another note, a number of early Westerns were filmed in the Sedona area.

Statue of horse from downtown Sedona, Arizona. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Found this horse in downtown Sedona.

A final photo from Boynton Canyon. NEXT BLOG: A look at Native American rock art near Sedona and a visit to an ancient 'well.'

A final photo from Boynton Canyon.

Old friends. Ken and I have been hanging out causing mischief for close to 40 years. Peggy's sister, Jane Hagedorn, and I hired Ken in 1977 when we co-executive directors of the American Lung Association in Sacramento.

Old friends. Ken and I have been hanging out causing mischief for close to 40 years. Peggy’s sister, Jane Hagedorn, and I hired Ken in 1977 when we were co-executive directors of the American Lung Association in Sacramento. Jane wanted him for his degree in public health education. I wanted him because he had just bicycled across America and I needed his expertise for the long distance Bike Trek program I had created.

NEXT BLOG: It is time to check out some Native American rock art in the Sedona area and visit a very old ‘well.’

 

 

Sedona, Arizona… New Age Mecca

 

Photo of Bell Tower in Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona, Arizona is known for its beautiful red rock monuments and its New Age appeal. The Bell Rock incorporates both. A vortex, said to radiate positive energy, is located on its left flank. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Sedona, Arizona  bills itself as the capital of the New Age Movement, and maybe it is. Certainly everything we have come to identify with New Age thinking can be found here— from alternative medicine to goddess worship. You can buy dream catchers, crystals, wands, and statues of deities such as Ganesha, the Hindu elephant god. There are fortune tellers, psychics, and tarot card readers. I am sure you can discover your future in your palm, have an astrological chart prepared, and confirm whatever messages you’ve received by throwing the runes. Or possibly you need to sit down with a shaman. Certainly you can find a quiet and beautiful spot to meditate.

Vortexes are central to the New Age belief system in Sedona. Four major ones are found in and around the town. These sites are said to radiate subtle energy that flows up from the earth in a spiral path and helps people along on whatever spiritual journey they have chosen for themselves. Locals describe the vortexes as masculine, feminine or some combination of both in the energy they release.

Tens of thousands of tourists visit these sites annually. The vortexes are even said to attract aliens, who do UFO flyovers. An army of tour group operators is prepared to take visitors to the vortexes, or you can go on your own. That’s what Peggy and I decided to do when we visited Sedona in November. We visited three, one next to the airport, one in Boynton Canyon, and the Bell Tower, shown above.

Did we feel the power vibrating through our bodies? Did we experience spiritual enlightenment? Well, no… sigh. I expect a little more work is required to reach Nirvana. But the beauty of the sites was definitely inspirational. What more could we ask for? A UFO or two, perhaps…

Tens of thousands of people visit the vortexes of Sedona annually. The Chamber of Commerce gives out maps of where to find them. This one is next to the airport.

Tens of thousands of people visit the vortexes of Sedona annually. The Chamber of Commerce gives out maps of where to find them. This one is next to the airport.

Peggy stands on top of the vortex located near the Sedona Airport. Sedona lies below, hemmed in by Red Rocks.

Peggy stands on top of the vortex. Sedona lies below, hemmed in by Red Rocks.

Peggy catches a photo of me in my one minute quest while sitting on the vortex rock. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Peggy catches a photo of me in my one minute quest to feel the  energy while sitting on the vortex rock. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Boynton Canyon vortex site. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The vortex in Boynton Canyon is located near this rock.

Boynton Canyon, Sedona Arizona vortex site.  Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I could almost feel the vortex’s energy given this impressive rock.

Another perspective. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Another perspective. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

When Peggy and I were hiking into Boynton Canyon with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake, a man stopped Leslie and Peggy and gave them each a heart carved out of stone. It was a very New Age kind of thing.

When Peggy and I were hiking into Boynton Canyon with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake, a man stopped Leslie and Peggy and gave them each a heart carved out of stone. It was a very New Age kind of thing.

NEXT BLOG: A sunset over Sedona.