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Chapel of the Holy Cross
"There is no serendipity."
The Red Rock Country and Upper Verde Valley are as beautiful and moving as this compelling story depicts. I was intrigued and fascinated by the real life mystery of the missing figure from the Chapel
of the Holy Cross. I'm still haunted by the tale.
Linda Unfried, Light of Corpus Christi Award Winner
"When Dan got his first glimpse of Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, and Cathedral Rock, he stopped carping. He looked shocked and craned his neck to get better views. I could have stopped, but it was late. I wanted to get up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross by sunset."
CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS
"After we ascended to the entrance on the chapel’s east side, we put the beer and chicken on the stone benches that surrounded the courtyard. We walked to the main door, trying to be respectful. We were Catholic boys. This was a church."
“Frank Lloyd Wright influenced the lady who built the chapel. Its architecture is unconventional. The builder had a sculptor do an unusual version of the crucified Christ for the interior. The priests call it the Christus. It's very moving, but most people hate it. A friend of my dad's says that it's so wrong that it denies Christ's divinity."
"The light rematerialized, flashing to the south and seeming to gain altitude until it passed Bell Rock, three or four miles south of the chapel."
"As soon as Gretchen saw Courthouse Butte, she stopped carping. Though my wife can be very persistent in cataloguing my shortcomings and explaining her position on any topic, she ceased all complaints and criticisms. As we drove deeper into the red rock country, she had no reluctance to describe each new geologic delight with unbridled enthusiasm. It was the most rapid, complete, and comprehensive attitude transformation that I’d seen in our long marriage."
"Inside the chapel, I was shocked by the absence of the Christus. It felt empty and cold. I knew the figure wouldn’t be there. I thought I’d prepared myself. Seeing the bare, sterile cross, framed against the stunning backdrop of the red sandstone buttes, made me angry. As beautiful as the architecture of the chapel is and as breathtaking as the view from the site, I no longer felt the transcendent experience that I’d felt every other time I’d been inside the sanctuary."
THE TWO SISTERS
"Once on the Chapel Trail, you pass megaliths named the Two Sisters, as in Nuns. They are large, ponderous, menacing, and unmoving, like the BVMs who taught at St. Francis. Once beyond the sisters, it’s an easy trek north along a narrow ridgeline to the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the shadow of Elephant Rock."
"I’ll note that the Devil had a dining room in Sedona, a kitchen across the valley near Soldier’s Pass, and a bridge on the other side of Capitol Butte. This part of the Verde Valley was sacred to the Native American inhabitants. To compete with the Holy Spirit, the Devil must have been very active here."
THE COWBOY CLUB
"What would follow would usher in the most momentous time of my life. Part of me wanted to bolt from the Cowboy Club and run all the way back to Tampa. Another part of me wanted Gretchen to explain, so I could watch these two men as she spoke. I’m much more of a fighter than a fleer."
SCHNEBLY TANK PETROGLYPHS
"Above and to the left of the largest Christus-like figure, a pre-historic scribe had etched an accurate replication of the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper star systems, complete with the Big Dipper ladle edge and the Little Dipper handle pointing at the North Star. Looking at these petroglyphs made the hair on the back of my neck stand up."
"The campsite was well situated near the ruins. Others had camped there in the recent past. Another large sandstone overhang extended over the spot for 25 feet. It was more than enough to keep us dry."
"The saddle looked negotiable. It formed a pass of sorts over the canyon to the west. We’d try to sneak out to the north, then head west. We’d escape and evade our pursuers. We’d go as fast as we could manage, back track, lay false trails, and use every trick we could think of. We’d stand and fight, when we had no other option."
COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST
"Tucked behind a tall ponderosa pine, I tried to wipe the sweat from my eyes with the soiled left sleeve of my Blackhawk shirt. I hefted the AK-103 and pressed the short stock into my sore shoulder. I moved my face around the stock until I established a comfortable cheek-weld, where I could focus on the front sight. I looked down the barrel toward the bend in the trail where the assailants would appear in the next few moments."
ARCHANGEL OF SEDONA
At the site of a world-famous architectural marvel located in the heart of the mystical red rock country surrounding Sedona, Arizona, a young college student encounters an ancient secret that holds the key to the origins of the universe. Haunted by his epiphany over decades, unexplainable—almost miraculous—events overtake him, until he has a revelation that compels him to go on a dangerous quest to resolve the mystery. There is no serendipity.
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