Saturday, 20 September 2014

Two postcards and a prayer

We have arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We saw so much spectacular scenery the first week of travel, including Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park. Last week I sent you a postcard from Bryce. Here’s my version of Arches: it was amazing, fantastic, awesome...well, after a while you run out of superlatives and just gaze silently...which is maybe as it should be.

These two window arches were formed out of enormous rocks worn down by weathering. Arches National Park has more than 2,000 of these structures, big and small.
We also took a scenic drive along the Colorado River and were enchanted by the red cliffs, scrubby pines, and the lengendary river that supplies so much of the Southwest with water for crops, animals, recreation and so much more.

I had high hopes for Santa Fe, the city of “holy faith”, as the first missionaries named it  back in the 1500s. I’d  been  here years ago on my own, but the trip was a short one. I loved what I saw, and kept bugging the Resident Sweetie to go back there with me. Now, 13 years later, we’d finally made it.

But as we drove through Northern New Mexico, I realized it was not spectacular, awesome, amazing– all those superlatives I’d hoped for. It was dry, barren, desolate, grey and scrubby. Would the RS, who’d done all the driving to get here, be disappointed, or wish he were elsewhere?

Well, we’ve been here 4 days, have another 4 scheduled, and are considering an extension. This land is beautiful in its own way, but you have to look a little harder for the beauty. There are purple asters and sunny yellow shrubs in the ditches, and the scrub juniper and pinon pines dot the high desert. The sky is a brilliant blue, and we are falling under its fascinating spell.

But the land is in trouble. The sign on the bathroom door here at the campground tells it like it is. “Santa Fe gets 9.47 inches of rainfall per year. Please don’t waste water.” The newspapers print stories about an 11 year drought, and the fear that there’s not enough water in the reservoirs to service the farmers. The snow pack on the mountains is depleted. The Santa Fe River is one of the top ten endangered rivers in the US– its stream bed is dry and rocky. The Rio Grande (literally, Big River) often does not reach the ocean, its waters siphoned off by a thirsty world.

Climate change, most scientists agree, is happening. People -- you, me, everybody -- are not the whole problem, but we are part of it.

The world is a beautiful place. The world is in big trouble. Both true. We are all connected – this I feel strongly as we travel through this land and meet its people. Could it be that the more we feel connected to the land and to the people we meet, both while traveling and at home, the more we will be motivated to do our part to keep our world beautiful – to work for peace, for a healthy environment, for justice for the downtrodden, whatever it is that we are called to do?

A prayer printed in a local tourist paper caught my eye, and I wanted to share it with you. Although the prayer is for Santa Fe, with just a few word and image changes, it could be for your home town, too.

O Dios, El Senor, Great Spirit,
El Shaddai, Adonai, Creator God, creating still,
By whatever name we know you, hear our prayers this day.
We thank you for the courage and the the Holy Faith
of those who founded this city so many years ago.
And we thank you, too, for the native people
who prayed in this land for centuries before
and for all who have come in the centuries since.
For all, be they native or newcomers
whose prayers continue to bless this city,
we thank you this day.
Hear too our prayers for guidance and wisdom.
Help us to learn from this good land
and the beauty of creation all around us.
In this land of endless sky
teach us the boundlessness of your beauty and love.
In this land of little rain,
teach us to share and to bless what you have given us.
In this land of brilliant sunrise and golden sunset,
teach us to use each day to bless the lives of others.
In this land of many cultures and colors,
give us your infinite imagination and
teach us to respect and value all your children.
O God, our help in ages past,
be our hope and the hope of our home in all the years to come.
Help us all to build on the foundation of faith, hope and love
that others have laid here,
so that all your people in this city might do justice,
love mercy and walk humbly with You,
 now and always,

Prayer by Rev. Talitha Arnold, pastor at United Church of Santa Fe.

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