Angel’s Landing Hike: How I Found The Spirit

Zion National Park & Angel’s Landing

by Kika Vila Nova

If you have heard about Utah’s Zion Canyon National Park, then you’ve definitely heard about Angel’s Landing hike. Sitting at a 5-mile round trip distance, the hike is deemed everything from amazing to challenging to dangerous to unforgettable.

I had the opportunity to reach the top of Angel’s Landing in April of 2016, and that hike meant more to me than I ever thought it would. When I reached the end point, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. I was confused…very confused. I wondered, “Why am I crying? What in the hell is wrong with me?” I was so overcome by emotion that at first, I couldn’t find its source, but I eventually searched myself in an effort to categorize my feelings, and the only word that came to mind was “spiritual”.

Angel's Landing

Let me give you some background:

I was born in a non-religious home in Recife, Brazil. My dad did not subscribe to organized religion and my mom, a social butterfly, would attend (and take us kids to) different meetings organized by different denominations. I was only baptized Catholic when I was nine because it was demanded by the private Catholic school I attended.

I grew up trying to understand religion, God, Jesus, and the unfairness of the world around me and it just… didn’t add up. “Why is my life a little better than the lives of those kids sleeping on the streets?” and “Does God not love homeless children?” are questions I constantly asked myself and never got answers to. The idea of a God who loves all his “children” while so much sadness still existed in the world didn’t make sense.

Fast forward to my late teens when I was struggling with depression and a desperate need to belong. I was visited by missionaries of a religion I will not name, was eventually baptized in that religion, did my own missionary service for a while, and remained a member for almost 20 years. I saw people who seemed happy there, and happy was what I really needed in my life.

But after years of historical research and feeling conflicted between what this religion preached versus what I felt is right and wrong in my core, I stopped going. This was about four years ago. Being ostracized and rejected by friends I had met through that religion was hard, and since I needed a distraction from that, and to occupy my Sundays, I turned to the outdoors.

Angel's Landing

In Utah, there is no shortage of beautiful canyons, parks, reservations, lakes, and waterfalls to explore. I found that while walking in nature I felt peace; I felt light; I felt belonging, and I felt a love that I believe every human being needs and deserves. Some say that you feel all that when you feel “The Spirit”, and for 20 years I was told – and really believed – that the only way to feel that was at church. And not any church, it had to be that one “true church.” I worried and wondered, whether or not I was going to miss out on that feeling for the rest of my life.

At the top of Angel’s Landing in April of 2016, I received my answer. And it was, “No, I won’t!” That burning inside that starts in your heart and takes over your entire body; that energy that’s impossible to describe in words; that love–so much love–that comes out in ugly cries.

Angel's Landing

On top of that hike, where Angels land, I felt that I didn’t need to be confined by 4 walls to feel that I belong. I do not have to subscribe to a specific religion to develop faith in accomplishing hard things nor to feel that I deserve the great things that come my way.

On top of Angel’s Landing, in April of 2016, overlooking the incredible beauty that is Zion Canyon, I felt The Spirit. And it was amazing!

DISCLAIMER: By writing this entry, I am not suggesting that organized religion is wrong for all. This is a personal experience.

Kika is a talkative Gemini who moved from Northeast Brazil to Utah 18 years ago and has a 9 (going on 19) year old daughter who is the love of her life. She shares her adventures in immigration, co-parenting, mental health, overall positivity and self-love on her Instagram account @kikassadventures


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