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The Important Places

/ Passage /

Spring creeps from the lowlands, warm air trailing through sagebrush, 

later to gust and glitter ribbons of white off high country peaks, 

small prayers to the warmth and rains to come.

Soon water begins to move clear and quiet 

off the shoulders of the Rockies, 

a crystalline chorus humming life back into sleeping land,

dripping, seeping, meandering, searching for passage through wide expanses of plateau and prairie, 

brown and heavy, muscled waves and wild currents,

plunging, roaring, rushing and tunneling into the heart of red earth and fluted sand,

seeking passage. 

Over the course of the next six million years this cycle repeats;

rivulets turned riverbeds dancing across the land,

an ancient rhythm humming the heart of it.

Water, once, and always, 

offering passage,

back to that grandest of Canyons.


Humans it seems have long held rites of passage as essential. Oral traditions and the later written recordings of myth and memory remind us of this. Rites of passage were not considered a matter of choice; rather they were the elemental underpinnings of community, the building blocks of shared connection between other humans and the landscape that shaped them. In a world where it seems to have become increasingly rare for rites of passage to be sought out in a healthy or considered fashion, the rites of passage offered by landscapes such as the Grand Canyon have become increasingly important. They allow us a space to reconnect with fundamental rhythms of land and our relationship to each other. To the feelings of awe and humility that are essential to our appreciation for our time here – and for each other. 

I am so thankful to my father and mother – and to my siblings, friends and river companions – with whom I’ve gotten to share time navigating and learning from the land and each other as we seek passage along the rivers and canyons of life. 


Working with both stills and motion, Forest Woodward’s work honors the tradition of the concerned photographer while seeking to more deeply explore the visceral and emotional connections between humans and their rapidly shifting relationship to the natural world.



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