oprah at grand canyon

Photo: Ruven Afanador

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I visited the Grand Canyon in 1993, but I didn’t really see the place. I was with Gayle, Stedman, and Bob Greene, filming for The Oprah Winfrey Show. Our schedule was so tight, we had to hike down the canyon and be back in Chicago by the next day. I was just putting one foot in front of the other—getting through it instead of being in it. (Also, I was carrying Gayle’s backpack because she’d broken down and said, “I don’t think I can make it!” Whoever said “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” never carried 45 pounds of their sister-friend’s gear.)

On this recent trip, my only plan was to be present. Stedman, Gayle (yes, we actually brought her again!), and I got up in the wee hours, wrapped ourselves in blankets, and waited for dawn. The words "amazing" and "awesome" don’t even come close to capturing what was in store: "magnificent," "majestic," "sacred" are more like it. To watch the morning light illuminate the shadowed crevices of the canyon, as the sky turns a truly astonishing blue, is to witness one of the most miraculous wonders of the world.

I took my time. I took it in. And I’ll keep it with me forever. This country is filled with splendor, right there to inspire—even change—us. We just have to open our eyes.