Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pictures from the Southwest

Here are some of my favorite shots from our journey.  I do want to mention that I have been taking time to work on the Kokopelli novel, and now feel equipped to finish it.  I have regained the feel for the land that I needed.

Our first night in New Mexico, after an "exhilarating" ride over the Raton Pass, we stayed at Villanueva State Park on the Pecos River.  It was a beautiful canyon, but by then I was exhausted.  My back hurt and was badly out of place despite the chiropractic adjustment I was able to get in Colorado Springs before leaving.  Also, the onset of winter cold wasn't helping and my pain levels were pretty high.  We set out early in the morning for Santa Fe.

Campsite rubble.  An historic marker declared that this was the route the first conquistadors had taken into this area.
We spent the night in Santa Fe, after visiting The Ark bookstore there.  We opted for a hotel because I truly needed a hot bath and a big bed for my back. The next morning, I was determined to go to Chimayo, a holy shrine known as the "Lourdes of America."  It was about an hour toward Taos, north of Santa Fe. 

Our visit there was truly a spiritual experience, and I could feel the presence of reverence and awe similar to what I felt in the Bahai Temple near Chicago.  It was otherworldly, heavenly, and healing.  I entered the shrine and waited my turn to enter the small room where the sacred healing soil is offered for free, took my little share.  I prayed and rubbed the soil on my eyelids (for my cataracts) and on my back.  Although I still had some discomfort, by the time I returned to the truck, after walking all over the little compound, I was walking nearly upright.  Within twenty-four hours, my back stopped hurting and I have had very little trouble with it since.  Miracle?  Or simply my own faith at work?  Does it matter which?

The chapel at Chimayo.

Chimayo is actually two shrines.  El Sanctuario de Chimayo, and Santo Nino Chapel.  The first is the place of healing soil.  This was a place revered by local Indians long before the Spaniards arrived, but later became a place where a local villager, praying, saw a glowing place on the hill.  He dug into the glowing spot and found a "crucifix with a dark Christ."  He and other villagers carried it with great ceremony to the nearest church eight miles away, where it was placed in a location of honor.  The next day it was gone, only to be found back in its spot in Chimayo.  A return to the church a second time yielded the same results.  By the third time, it was decided it would stay in place and a sanctuary was built to house it and the holy spot. 

The second shrine is the Santo Nino.  Here is an excerpt from the Chimayo website:

The story of the Santo Niño begins in Spain during the time of the Moors, Spain's Muslim conquerors. In Atocha, outside Madrid, many Christian men had been imprisoned. The jail did not feed the prisoners, and the caliph ordered that only children could visit and bring food to them. The women prayed to Our Lady for help. Soon word spread that a small boy was visiting and feeding the prisoners. His basket was never empty of bread, and his water gourd was always full. He was considered a manifestation of Jesus as the Holy Child, the Santo Niño. In 1492 Catholics drove the Muslims out of Spain. In the succeeding years, Spanish colonists brought worship of Our Lady of Atocha and her Holy Child to the village of Plateros, Mexico. As in Spain, there was a statue of the Virgin with the Holy Child in her arms. The child was often removed and brought to help with difficult births. Over time, the Santo Niño's reputation for miracles grew. It was said that he wandered the countryside at night spreading miracles, especially among the imprisoned, the poor, and the ill.

In 1857, Severiano Medina made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Santo Niño de Atocha in Mexico and brought back a statue to his home in Chimayó. He built a chapel in honor of the Santo Niño near the Santuario. The popularity of the Santo Niño spread, and soon the Santuario, too, placed a statue of the Santo Niño in a room to the side of the altar. Today he is beloved across New Mexico.
 We were not allowed to take photos of the shrines themselves, but here is an image, also from Chimayo's website, of the sacred soil.

 Here are my own pictures taken at Chimayo:

Shoes for the Sacred Child

Other pictures from New Mexico:

Northern New Mexico is filled with widely scattered abandoned buildings like this one.

Camel's Head Rock on the way to Chimayo.

Guardian cat at Chimayo.

This mysterious cloud seemed to follow us from Colorado to New Mexico.  At one point, it looked like Kokopelli.

One of my favorite shots.

Modern things have their beauty, too.
After Santa Fe, we went to Albuquerque, but our event with the bookstore there had been cancelled.  By then we were tired and anxious to move onto Phoenix.  Honestly, the energy of Albuquerque wasn't as attractive as it was in the past, and there appeared to be no more metaphysical bookstores to explore.  We spent the night at a delightful RV park, though. The Enchanted Trails RV park is just west of ABQ on I-40 and filled with antiques.  At last, one park where our RV wasn't too old!

The owner serenaded on this while I did laundry.  Delightful!


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