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.’

 

 

23 comments on “The Chapel of the Holy Cross and Boynton Canyon… Two Sedona Icons

  1. I really, really try to appreciate the black and white photos, but with such glorious color, it seems a waste of good pixels to spend them on B&W. They’re fine photos. I just can’t get over those rocks!

    The church is gorgeous. It’s one of those that surprises on the inside. The play of light, and the spareness of the furnishings, are perfect.

    It really is like wandering through a 3D Rorschach in such places, isn’t it? I saw the fellow who’s “screaming” before I even read your caption!

    • Interesting on the color, Linda. As I am sure you have noticed in my blogs, there is a lot of it. (grin) But I also think black and white photography is powerful on its own. I see different things… different textures, forms, and light that I sometimes miss in my color photos.

      The church was amazing— so modern and stark and yet beautiful. And it fit so beautifully into the landscape. I’d only seen it from a distance in the past so it was a treat to see the inside of it as well.

      Laughing about the 3D Rorschach. Maybe we should both be checked out. 🙂

      –Curt

  2. You captured beautiful pictures of some of the “rock people”. I have no doubt they were grinning at you! And Boynton Canyon is such a sacred place. I wish pictures could capture the energy that is felt in these places.

  3. Sedona is better known for its lovely but a little too touristic downtown, so I love that you share the lesser known parts of this gorgeous area. Been there twice and always fell for the special pull of this part of Arizona. Gorgeous photos, as always.

  4. Your photos do that chapel justice. I agree with the B&W in this case: that really makes the image dramatic. It’s neat that you were able to spend the time with a longtime friend. What changes you have witnessed in each other over the years. I agree about the bear: not afraid. I love it when I get the opportunity to see big wildlife.

    Your story keeps reminding me of mine from a few years ago. We obviously get the same kind of enjoyment out of the same places. Next time I’m at the coast I’m honestly going to try to make time to find you and Peggy. https://crystaltrulove.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/hiking-oak-creek-canyon/

    • Fun blog about your journey up the canyon, Crystal. But in July, you are a brave person! I avoid deserts in the summer with a passion. 🙂 And yes, it would be fun to get together some time and swap tales. –Curt

  5. Yes, the colors are wonderful. But that black-and-white of the chapel is truly stunning. Adams would have been proud to take that shot.

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