I recently had the thrill of visiting the Palatki Heritage Site in Sedona, Arizona. The setting was majestic, an ancient cliff dwelling perched in Red Rock country surrounded by vast desert and diverse vegetation of apple trees to Prickly Pear cacti. The Sinagua cliff dwellings date back to 1150. Nearby is a wall of pictographs “from every native culture to ever occupy the Verde Valley.” Palatki is a special place and quite remarkably intact given the passage of time.
The cliff dwellings were impressive but I was struck by the awesomeness of the pictographs. While rudimentary, the subjects were similar to those seen today. Animals seemed to be a consistent theme through the ages. One pictograph in particular caught my eye (see photo) and has stayed with me. At first glance it looks like the letter “H.” But I prefer the interpretation of a Yavapai tribe member who believes this to be a man and a woman holding hands, depicting love and/or marriage. A simple picture for an awesome emotion. For me, it confirms that love endures through time and place…a powerful and basic emotion that is felt by people living today as well as those who lived a thousand years ago. A simple ancient pictograph shows us it’s the people in our lives that matter, not the things. Love gives us strength, makes us smile and laugh, and offers love in return.