If I had a blog, today I would write about Santa Fe, the City of Saintly Faith.
Mom and I reached Santa Fe around noon on the Summer Solstice. As we traveled deeper into the desert, I felt the land speaking to me in the same voice I hear when I am Up North. It occurred to me that maybe I didn’t have to make a choice between loving the North and loving the desert. Perhaps I had simply found a new branch of the same Sacred Tree. I thought about the raven we saw the day before and about the aspens in the high-country, whose leaves danced like those of the birch and popple around our cabin in Ely, and I felt the a current of spiritual energy running between these two holy landscapes and I knew I was feeling The Earth Root, through which all things are connected.
Our first afternoon in Santa Fe, we met one of The Grandmothers, a Navajo woman selling silver guitar picks, each engraved with a story. My brother plays guitar and Mom wanted to buy a special pick for him. “Find one that speaks to you,” said the Grandmother, “and I will tell you its story.”
Mom chose one with a turtle engraving. “The story of Turtle is one of long life. Not only does Turtle live for many years, he also represents water. which is life for our people.”
The Grandmother motioned for Mom and I to sit down, so we could talk more comfortably. Under the shady latilla canopy, we talked about the suffering of the Earth; the oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the destruction of forests and the extinction of animals to satisfy the greed of humanity. The Grandmother asked what Indian tribes were native to our part of the country and we talked about the Osage and the Early Woodland people who lived in the rocky overhang above our river nearly 1500 years ago. We told her about Old Woman Cave and the pottery shards we found there. She smiled when we told her how we treasured the work of those ancient Mothers and Grandmothers; she was glad we gave them the honor they deserved. As we prepared to leave, we thanked her for her stories, and she thanked us for ours. The song of The Earth Root was as loud and clear as the bells of St. Francis’ Cathedral. In that moment we were not white women and Navajo, but sisters, mothers, daughters, and grandmothers who carry the Song in their hearts.
As evening deepened on the longest day of the year, we drove a few miles east of The Plaza and climbed the winding path up to The Cross of the Martyrs. From the cross, you can
see all of Santa Fe as well as the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains. As we sat in the cool dusk, the sun set over the mountains in a blaze of red and gold, the perfect celebration of the Solstice. We couldn’t imagine a day that could outshine this one, but that was before we went to Chimayo.
To be continued…