This may be the part where fellow parents might think how wonderful it was to have my daughter’s full attention, free from her phone and any electronic devices. It was wonderful, but I am the one who needed the wake-up call. I was unaware of how necessary it was to pull my head out from behind the glass window of my phone and step out of work mode. My daughter is a very strong, self-sufficient, young woman, but this trip would ultimately teach me that she still wants and needs her mom to be fully present when we’re together. With the exception of those hours in the park without service, I was failing her miserably. Our discussions eventually would dive deeper and provide an opportunity for me to know my daughter better than ever, that I was still needed, and how to better care for this young woman who means the world to me. I have NOT finding Heart Rock to thank for that.
As we talked, we watched a woman with long black hair wandering about 50 yards out. She had stopped a couple of other hikers and asked them something. Moments later, she shouted to us, “Have you seen Heart Rock?” Tired and somewhat disheartened by my own answer, I offered her a simple, “No,” and the disappointment in her body language matched ours.
We continued the search for another hour, but the sun was about to set and we were beginning to loose heart (so to speak). As we made our way back to the car, a A deep feeling of pride replaced any disappointment as I watched my daughter quietly carry out trash she found on our way. “Leave it better than when you found it, “she said.
The next morning found me anxious and dangerously close to deadline. It was time to rethink my strategy for the cover. My daughter encouraged me to try again, and with only one stop (coffee) we were on our way. She downloaded a different map that would be available without cell service, and we reread what we had researched. It all made more sense to us now that we had a firm grasp on where it wasn’t.
FINDING THE HEART OF JOSHUA TREE
We found it within 20 minutes of parking at the same location. The fatigue I felt from the stress I put myself under vanished and was replaced with joy and wonder. It was beautiful, perfect, and RIDICULOUSLY easy to find. You can even see the road from where it stands. It occurred to me that I had been looking so hard for what I thought it would look like and where I thought it should be, I missed it entirely. As we approached, like a Hallmark “Loveuary” movie, the sun broke through the clouds, letting the blue sky peek through with just enough sunshine to brighten up everything around us.
Roses had been laid at the rock’s basin. Over the next couple of hours, as I took photos, none of the travelers that came by disturbed them. We all sensed there was great emotion behind them… a memorial, engagement, or an offering of gratitude perhaps? That story has yet to be told.
Humanity of all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages came to Heart Rock, all of whom approached it reverence and respect, including the children. Adults posed in front of it with their arms held out in victory; the children just wanted to hug it. Remember the woman who had been searching for it the day before? Her name is Purvika. She found it too! What are the odds we would pass each other on the trail a day later (she was hiking up just as we were leaving), and recognize each other after our brief exchange from 50 yards away?
My daughter and I discussed staying until sunset knowing it would be a great shot for the cover. But heeding what was learned in our conversations, dinner with her before she left for Orange County was in order. Shortly after we left, a happy text from Sandra, our photographer, announced that she too had given it one more attempt and found it as well. She shared her own joy for the much-needed spiritual reboot the photoshoot brought her.
What began as a frustrating effort to find something that seemed out of reach, in retrospect, was a literal treasure hunt. As much priceless bounty was discovered on the journey as in the destination. I would not trade one wrong turn or cut one step short. It was all necessary and precious.