Monday, June 8, 2009

Taos

"From the heavens the Lord looks down and observes the whole human race.
Surveying from the royal throne all who dwell on earth.
The one who fashioned the hearts of them all knows all their works."

(Psalm 33:13-15)


North House

The eastern wing of the North House goes from one to five stories. Each door is to a different, privately owned home. They are passed from one generation to the next.

The buildings are made of adobe, a sun-dried mix of mud and straw, and must be repaired every six months or so. Each family is responsible for its unit. While we were there, it was as though I was looking at the very first condominiums in North America, built over 1000 years ago.

St. Jerome's Chapel
This little church is a National Historic Landmark.
This well recognized Catholic mission church was built in 1850 to replace the earlier San Geronimo church and is named for the Patron Saint of the Taos Pueblo.

The inside of this chapel is beautiful with it's the hand carved vigas and the choir loft. The Santos in the church were brought by early Spanish missionaries.

Another busy tourist day at Taos Pueblo but again, Frankie is able to photograph a peaceful still moment at a church which at any next second will be teaming with activity. How does he make the people disappear?

Red Willow Creek
Called the Taos River by the state and Red Willow Creek by the Indians who live there, this stream which arises in their sacred Blue Lake, high in the mountains behind the pueblo, is the pueblo's source of water. The tribe traces its origins back to Blue Lake.

Red Willow Creek supplies drinking water as well as water for live stock and irrigation.


Cemetery at the Ruins of Old San Geronimo Built in 1619, this mission church was destroyed in the Great Pueblo Revolt in 1680 and rebuilt in 1706.
During the Mexican American War, the U.S. Army bombarded it again leaving only the bell tower standing. You can see the adobe structure that was the bell tower in the background.

It has since become a cemetery which is now filled. Taos Indians are buried according to their traditional religious practice, with the addition of a Christian cross.
I never gave it a thought that one of my relatives would be a resident of this pueblo until I noticed the name Mirabal, (which is my maiden name) on the crosses on some of the graves in this campo santo.
I wondered about this stranger who shared my last name and who's memory was carved into wood. Born two years before my father and passing two months and one week after my father, their paths may have crossed.

My dad, Henry Mirabal used to tell me that there were not very many Mirabals because the name came from two brothers, one of which was my great grandfather, Reyes. Dad would kid me saying that you could take all the people of the world named Martinez, Smith, Sanchez or Brown and throw them in the ocean and they would almost fill the ocean. But not so the Mirabals.

Daddy would have been vindicated as actually the name Mirabal has made a unique mark in this ancient pueblo, as one of the artists that presently reside in the pueblo enjoys this very unusual Hispanic last name.

The more famous Mirabal native is Robert Mirabal, an accomplished musician and flute maker. His concerts and compact discs have been showcased on PBS television. Artist abound in this pueblo.

Blankets, jewelery, paintings, and sculpture are some of the beautiful things that will delight your little peepers.

The New Mexico sky and red earth, the sound of thunder and the peaceful sound of moving water from the creek made me understand how God creation stands as a benchmark for what we as his children attempt to create inspired by His amazing handiwork.

I found art everywhere. In an adobe window graced with a lace curtain...

I found beauty in a door.
Always wondering about the hearts that loved, just the other side of the chipped paint and dried earth.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chimayo

"One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord's house all the days of my life,
To daze at the Lord's beauty, to visit His temple."
(Psalm 27:4)


Frankie and I were given a great gift over the Memorial Day holiday to travel to Taos and Chimayo New Mexico. Thank you Lia and Roberto! Frankie took some beautiful pictures. This one is especially amazing because of the stillness of the photograph. The day we were there, perhaps because of the holiday, there were hundreds of people here, there and everywhere around the Santuario. It is absolutely miraculous how this photo was taken without one tourist walking past. Now for Chimayo's extraordinary story. The Santuario is part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe or (Holy Faith). It is absolutely beautiful. The Chapel of Santo Nino is where the posito or little dirt hole can be found. Absolutely no photography is allowed in the inside of the Shrine or the Chapel. Unfortunate because both are amazing.


El Santuario (The Shrine) was built between l8l4 and l8l6. The "miraculous" crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas was found around l8l0. There is no written testimony concerning the apparition of Our Lord in the Chimayo area. What we have is tradition passed from one generation to another by the people of El Potrero. Here is one account of a "true" story as told by the storyteller.
One tradition recalls that during Holy Week on the night of Good Friday, Don Bernardo Abeyta, who was a member in good standing of the Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesus el Nazareno (Penitentes) was performing the customary penances of the Society around the hills of El Potrero. Suddenly he saw a light springing from one of the slopes of the hills near the Santa Cruz River. Don Bernardo went to the spot and noticed that the shining light was coming from the ground. He started to dig with his bare hands, and there he found a Crucifix. He left it there and called the neighbors to come and venerate the precious finding. A group of men was sent to notify the priest, Fr. Sebastian Alvarez at Santa Cruz.



Upon hearing the extraordinary news, the priest and people set out for Chimayo. When they arrived at the place where the Crucifix was, Fr. Sebastian picked it up and carried it in a joyful procession back to the church. Once in the church, the Crucifix was placed in the niche of the main altar. The next morning, the Crucifix was gone, only to be found in its original location. A second procession was organized and the Crucifix was returned to Santa Cruz, but once again it disappeared, The same thing happened a third time. By then, everyone understood that El Senor de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayo, and so a small chapel was built. This picture is of one of the many colorful gifts left behind by a grateful pilgrim. It is decorated by others as well who have hung milagros, flowers and crosses. This piece of art needs a beautiful name. How about: Mexican Resurrection?



El Santuario de Chimayo is now known as the "Lourdes of America." The crucifix still resides on the chapel alter, but for some reason its curative powers have been overshadowed by El Posito, the "sacred sand pit" from which it sprang, which gapes unevenly behind the main altar. Over 300,000 people visit this posito every year. Many, many people including this amazed traveler take a bit of this sacred dirt home. The hole never gets bigger. It remains the same, never changing like God's love for us.




The Prayer Room, which is located in the sacristy of the church (next to the pit), is filled with discarded crutches, braces, and handmade shrines that include photos of loved ones who have been healed of their illness. There are so many candles lit in this prayer room. There are petitions for healing. People have returned with their testimony or gift to be placed on this wall of gratitude. While I was there, I could actually see the priest offer Mass. We were that close to the alter behind a wall sheltering us from the rest of the church and the participants.


The Shrine is very simple but beautiful with huge retablos covering the three of the four walls. The simplicity of this beautiful place is a lesson itself in the power of humility and grace. On the left side of the Shrine where the Chapel to El Santo Nino is there is a window and I wanted a picture of this window because I saw birds had made a happy home inside. We were there on such a beautiful day. The end of May and everything was green and the sun danced on every flower and plant. It was such a blessing and a privilege to actually visit this holy place.


This is the shrine to St. Francis. He is my most favorite saint. It is a mosaic and it is just beautiful! Saint Francis is Francisco and Frankie's patron saint. I asked the twins to stand on each side of this beautiful work of art. Can you guess which twin is Francisco and which is Lorenzo. They really loved our time in Chimayo.

We told the boys, "This saint has the same name as one of you boys." " Really, what is his name?" they asked.
"This is San Francisco," we said.

These four year old already know their prayers. They also do weekly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for one hour each Friday evening. It is amazing to see little ones learn to adore Jesus and to be still and quiet in His presence for such a long period of time. Did you guess which one is Francisco? He is the one closest to his patron saint. He is on the left.

I want my God, to love you face to face.