Monday, December 19, 2011

New Mexico: My HEART Home

I've been to New Mexico only once, but visiting was a defining experience of my life. After graduate school, feeling shattered by the end of a relationship & writing  a thesis; I was completely spent & in desperate need of renewal. I'm largely an introvert who gets filled by time alone & felt a strong pull to go back to the southwest,
so I took a solo trip to New Mexico for about a month.
I landed in Albuquerque, rented a car & proceeded to drive about 4000 miles; north through Santa Fe, Chimayo & Taos, west to Ojo Caliente, Abiqui & Bandelier, south to White Sands & then east to Lincoln & Roswell.

I realized this was going to be quite the spiritual journey as soon as I landed; briefly stopping to see an old friend, then setting off through Indian Pueblo ruins, National Parks & broken down old colorful graveyards. Mostly I gravitated towards the old to ancient in the forms of hidden indigenous petroglyths & early Spanish churches. The Image at the top is the back of the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Rancho De Taos, painted famously by Georgia O'Keefe, & on the left is the view from the front of the same church after it has just been built. It IS the oldest surviving Adobe church in the United States.

"The Shadow of the Cross," is a life-size painting of Christ done in 1896 by French Canadian artist Henri Ault. Curiosity-seekers worldwide visit the parish hall 
in this church to see a mysterious painting that becomes luminescent in the darkness. In regular light the painting is a life size portrait of Christ standing on a rock near Galilee. When the lights go out the painting emits a glow & becomes luminescent with Jesus appearing in silhouette & a black shadow in the shape of a cross DOES appear over his right shoulder. According to the host who showed us the painting, scientists have examined the chemical properties of the paint & 
have confirmed that no radium or other luminescent chemicals or materials are present to produce the eerie glow, which was only discovered after the painting had been stored in the dark room & then 'glowed in the dark' when uncovered. It is a strange experience to experience this transformation.

El Santuario de Chimayo Church was built in l8l6 after a "miraculous" crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas was found in l8l0. The traditional story says on the night of Good Friday during the Holy Week,  Don Bernardo Abeyta suddenly saw a bright light springing from one of the hills near the Santa Cruz River. He climbed to the spot & saw the glow was coming from under the ground. He dug with his bare hands & there he found a Crucifix. He went & called his neighbors to see the precious finding & a group was sent to notify the priest, Fr Sebastian Alvarez at Santa Cruz. Upon hearing the extraordinary news, he went to Chimayo & carried the Crucifix in a joyful procession back to his church in Santa Cruz. Once there, it was placed in the niche of the main altar. The next morning the Crucifix was gone, only to be found again in its original location on the hill. A second procession was organized & the
Crucifix was once again returned to Santa Cruz, but again it disappeared! After a third attempt it became understood that it wanted to remain in   Chimayo & so a small chapel was built & the Crucifix is now the centerpiece of the altar here. This IS truly a magical place & is well known for it's healing dirt which is believed to have cured many ailments over the years. 

more later.........

1 comment:

  1. I have been wanting to read this and never got to it so thank you for the link this morning when I had the time to do just that. What a magical adventure - I love things like this - as you knew I would - with the painting and the cross . Thank you!!!