I step outside to greet the birds living in my Cottonwoods and allow the quiet of Sunday morning to settle in. I look up into the clouds, looking for Jesus; but all I see are the clouds. “It’s getting harder for me to stay here Lord! Some days there seems to be no place for me. I don’t belong anywhere! The air-conditioning at church makes me hurt, it’s a lot of work to bundle up for it, and even then, I feel sick afterwards. I also, don’t know if you still want me in this church. I think they are headed in the wrong direction. I can’t follow where they are leading. I’m confused, Lord.” A gentle gust of warm wind brushes my face, as it rustles my nightgown and I hear my beloved New Mexico hills calling my name. I hear in my spirit, “Go, it is okay; go!”
My husband cooks breakfast, we eat and then, we dress and pack water and snacks, as we prepare to leave the Animas River Valley; dubbed “Animas, the river of lost souls” by Catholic Spaniards centuries ago. They chose this name in reference to the ancient pueblo natives who founded my home town; centuries before the Spaniards arrived to conquer and enslave them. Added centuries later, after the Spaniards lost power, northern Europeans named my town, “Aztec” because the ruins of their city reminded them of that great tribe. These ruins are Aztec’s claim to fame and we remember the ancient ones with reverence.
Packed in the car, my husband and I look forward to giving the landscape kaleidoscope of the Four Corners a spin. We head south and turn up out of our valley of lost souls onto the “Damn Road” leading to Navajo Lake; which everyone says is filled to the spillway! New Mexico is blessed with rain this year, our cup runs over and when water comes to the desert, desert-dwellers have to get out to witness and celebrate! In my mind, I anticipate rolling hills covered with Cedar and Pinyon amidst normally grey grass turned green, stretching for hundreds of miles. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken this route and soon, anticipation turns to shock when I see my remembered empty hills dotted with houses and mobile homes. I try not to be disappointed and focus instead on familiar landmarks; giant mesa bluffs at the edge of the Northwestern Plateau, Angel Peak, and Shiprock in the far distance, all in varying shades of blue. Soon, we arrive at Navajo and it is full to the brim with water; and people. So much water looks out-of-place in the desert canyons that it gorges but it is necessary to feed the slick, characterless, global village that is swallowing mi Nuevo Mexico; as it swallows the whole world… I frown and say a silent prayer, asking for solar flares. God is good not to answer all my prayers and also, to correct me when the attitude of my prayers is wrong.
We turn northward, to visit our neighbor Colorado. Soon, we climb to seven thousand feet and the view is entirely changed. Deep green plateau with the La Plattas rising to the west and the fourteen-thousand-foot peaks of the Needles sitting on the northeastern horizon. In this place also, there is more evidence of humans than there used to be and it isn’t (in my mind) an improvement. The contrast between what God has made and how human beings try to ‘improve’ it, takes my mind back to church. I mean really, what is needed for worship pleasing to God except a Bible, a joyful song in the heart, and praise on the lips! When will people accept God’s Will, stop imagining themselves as gods, and stop ruining everything by adding more than what is needed?
As we drive, my long-time, hard working husband begins to reminisce and point out all of the houses he has helped build. I also, am reminiscing as we travel through this land that’s been our home for so long. In thirty-plus-years, we’ve changed a great deal too and we helped build this ever-expanding community that I want to remain small and simple. Though my heart yearns for a better world than the world built by people, a perfect world created by God with human beings in harmony, the world of men is in me too and no matter where I run, it goes with me. My belly is full and I have a roof over my head because all these people fell in love with this land too. I see myself as I am; a human being, a hypocrite who criticizes my brothers and sisters for doing what I hate but also, do.
From Durango, we head down the Animas River Valley back home and God calls my attention once again, to the great landmarks. The high mesas, the mountains, and mighty rock formations, that no one will ever be able to build on; and thus, He reminds me to spiritually, focus on Jesus the mightiest landmark of all; while people fill up the valleys by doing the things people do. My confusion lifts and I relax because my Father is in control and this beautiful planet that I love is His world. The church belongs to Him too. The One who controls the tides of the oceans and turns the deserts green can also, control the evil tide of human beings; and He will. All that is required of me is to walk in obedience with my eyes locked upon Jesus and wait on God to complete His plan; as I pray for my brothers and sisters who are hypocrites like me.
I get out of the car and look up and still, there are only clouds; but with returned peace in my heart, I will patiently wait for Christ’s promised return. I enter mi casa beside the Animas and with joy, I settle in to write words lifting Jesus so all who are drifting and drowning in the common river of lost souls, might see Jesus, reach for Him, and live!