We have settled in at Las Parras, just north of Abiquiu. This is the first time I’ve settled long enough to write since arriving in New Mexico last week. I just finished reading Rueful Death by Susan Albert; it was a little lighter than my taste but it was a good read for leisure times.
I also started reading Imitation of Christ this morning; I’m pretty sure I had this book in my early forties – bought during a spiritual retreat. I’m glad that I took the time to read the introduction outlining the context in which Thomas à Kempis wrote as a man of Catholic faith, wanting to humanize Christ’s message – at least that is my take-away from the initial notes. I have resistance to read anything of the members-only, exclusive “one church club”, yet weren’t all early Christians just that? Before the reformation? I know embarrassingly little of our Christian history.
His first writing addresses biblical study for the purpose of heart, not engaging and entertaining the mind – that I can agree to, and stay to read on with an attitude of open mindedness. After all, if Thomas a Kempis was wiling to declare the root and truth of Christ’s teachings in the face of little previous record or speculations, with boldness while under threat of religious order and personal rejection, if not even death because of his loving convictions; then who am I to sit in my safety and freedoms and religious protections to not at least contemplate his passionate pleas for God’s loving messages? I read enough to know that I will read on, another time, but… what about my now?
This arbor covered patio in Abiquiu is filled with sunshine, breezes, song bird’s chorus of all variety of tones and squawks, and beckonings; early summer roses and Russian Sage and the ever present reddish-beige hills dotted with dots and clumps of various degrees of green – backed by the same again under bluish-grey films appearing inversely translucent with the distance from my vantage point. Our air, now coming up to the elevation of 6500 feet, and some 200 miles from the Wallow fires of Arizona, is routinely clear and flaunts light-carrying near zero humidity with unassuming relief. I am refreshed by both the simplicity and complexity of sights, sounds, sensations dependent upon only my will to look deeper or to be a part of God’s palette for the moment.
Or this moment.
Or the next.
This is our forth visit in as many years to this particular part of New Mexico – just north of Santa Fe, and just south of the arid land of Ghost Ranch made popular by Georgia O’Keefe’s eye and matchless expression of dust and dead bones. And our third to this designed-for-the-retreating adobe styled bed and breakfast (more bed than eats). As usual, after the initial dust is shaken from my feet and enough time lapses for me to feel my rhythms join the tune of this quiet place; when I have had time to begin soaking in the comforts of laying quietly on the king-sized bed while the ceiling fan moves arid air from corner to corner, I find myself drifting into fantasy of aging in a room like this when nursing care is required. And I feel the usual anger (fear) tempting me away from my life in remembering the torture some aloneness of my mother’s confines in the later years of her MS-riddle life. I look around and see another way to be still – with light, and beauty, and air, and simplicity. But that’s not what we do for our elderly, or plan for ourselves when it comes in fashion of sacrificing the enjoyment of now.
Maybe that is the right order of things.
And I come back to my life at 56 to see, and remember with accuracy my mother at this age traveling with my father, with their friends, seeing this awesome and varied country, and maybe also having moments of holding the beauty in trust for her time of stillness.
I may paint today. I may not. I may lay on the king-sized pillow-top bed and look again and again at the soft white fondant curves of this adobe house’s walls – smoothly wrapping around windows, doorways, fireplace and arch above my head. I may go back to the fantasy of never returning to the truly congested areas of Houston… along this pavement, “congested area ahead” signals notice for three, maybe four autos at one roadside stop. I may dream of attending Seminary in Austin or encourage Les to find a fellowship of musicians in study or play. I may plan to become vegetarian and live without makeup or tight jeans or to commit to sending my book to DeVoss for consideration, or begin writing my next book, or play?
Or I may just finish this blog and sit with another cup of tea and live within, or without, inspiration to write, or paint, think, or do. And maybe that is the right order of things, here in New Mexico on a breezy sunny day.