Fro me, the whole reason to go to Abiquiu was because it was Georgia O'Keefe country and I am a giant fan of her work. I wanted to see where she painted, what drew her to this area of New Mexico. I'm not sure the exact reasons that she came, but I'm here to tell you that this is some of the most beautiful country in the U.S. Of A. Wow and double wow.
I pull into Riana Campground which is run by the Corp of Engineers. Because of my advanced age, I get to camp here for half price. Eight dollars a night for a scenic campsite and I get water and electricity also. I had planned to hit the ground running but I found that sitting outside in the perfect weather, staring at Georgia's pet mountain: Cerro Pedernal which means Flint Mountain was throughly engrossing. I would occasionally turn my lawn chair 180 degrees and look over Abiquiu Lake (actually a reservoir).
|View out the front of the RV|
View out the back - this is Cerro Pedernal - Georgia's Mountain
I probably sat there for a day and a half before I decided I should do more in the area besides walk Miko when she became insistent. I thought that since it was Easter Sunday perhaps I should go visit the local Benedictine Monastery of Christ In The Desert. The chapel was supposed to be special and every couple of hours, the monks file in and half sit on one side of the chapel, half sit on the other side of the chapel and they chant back and forth. This could be interesting, I looked at their prayer schedule and found a time when the chanting was only going to be ten minutes long. Keep in mind I am not a religious person at all.
Now the monastery is back in the mountains about thirteen miles off of the main road. I left home about a half hour early figuring that was plenty of time to go thirteen miles. Probably take me about 15 minutes? What I didn't take into account was that this thirteen mile road was a single lane, dirt washboard road that at times hung precariously to the side of mountains. Let us not even mention what happens when you meet a car. Forty five minutes later I arrive at the monastery, it is hard to see my car, it is covered with about fifty tons of red dirt. I missed None(the ten minute long prayer session) but I was going to be in time for Vespers.
The parking lot is a ways down the road from the monastery and as I'm walking up the road, I met a young woman in her twenties coming from the monastery. She stops me and says how much visiting this monastery has meant to her, how it has reaffirmed her faith. It was such a very intense spiritual experience for her. She said “I wept”. She then gave me a huge sprig of sage and hoped that my visit would move me as much as it had her. I thanked her and walked on.
|The Monastery of Christ In The Desert|
|Mountains Behind the Monastery|
I had a few minutes before Vespers so I went into the gift shop. There were monk made candles and monk made carvings. Lots of monk made goods. I wandered along until I came to a rosary display (nun made, not monk made). I was raised Catholic and I remember my Great Gram teaching me to say the rosary. I suddenly realized that I no longer remembered anything about it. I walked up to Brother John, a very young monk and asked him if he could help me remember how to say the rosary. He became very excited, in a very quiet monk-like way and said “You want me to say the rosary with you?” Not quite what I had in mind, but ok. He started to show me and I don't know what happened but all of a sudden I had tears streaming down my face. I felt very overcome with emotion. I don't know if it was remembering Gram or the spirituality of the place but I could not stop weeping.
So Brother John and I are praying together, rather Brother John is praying and I'm crying and saying words. He says "Hail Mary..............Full of Grace............" etc. Meanwhile I'm going "HailMaryFullOfGrace" etc. I think perhaps my spiritual lesson here is that I should probably slow down and reflect a bit more.
It is now time for Vespers. Brother John has to leave me quickly to get in line with the rest of the monks. I go into the chapel and it is beautifully simple. There are windows above the alter in three different directions where you can see the mountains pressed up close to the monastery. There are four rows of pews for the faithful or spectators and on each side of the aisle, there are only two or three seats. I think the audience could be about 12 people and I was one of them. I was definitely the only heathen there.
The monks file in down the center aisle, followed by the incense swinger and a priest (officiant) and alter boy (monk). Turns out Vespers is not any ten minute deal. Over an hour later, the service is done. It was interesting watching the monks and even more moving to sit there and look at the mountains outside the window.
I thanked Brother John for his spiritual guidance before I left with my rosary in hand. It was now 6:30 and I was a little concerned that I might have to drive down that dirt road in the dark so I hightailed it out. I need not have worried, I got home before dark. Must have been cause I had that rosary watching out for me.
Pictures on "The Long and Winding Road":