05 January, 2011

8th, 9th, 10th Days of Christmas


Out on the high plains, the high desert, winter is clear, winter is silent. Sunrise light burns gentle against cockcscomb peaks. They rise out of the dry seabed, a ocean of sand and sage, crumbled rock and cactus. Yucca waits, sucking moisture from empty skies. Come spring its wax white, lily flowers will bloom as Christ's passion, death and resurrection greet us in the great Paschal feast.

Black spots on the basin floor, Angus cattle feed in the cold. Its morning. The air sweet and brittle, bites sinuses, sears cold in the lungs. Down low, the Rio Grande river winds her lonely way, bisecting the state. Blackbirds and waterfowl rise dark waves in the riparian morning.

Up here, on the flats, Light, nothing more...just light rising against a dun landscape. Cedar and pinion mark the hillsides where antelope wander, cattle graze and the thin, winter winds moan. The rest is silence, deep, profound, and clear. Its not the silence of death. Its is the silence of waiting, anticipation. It is the silence broken by Epiphany. It is the knowing that Emmanuel, "God is with us."

In one community, the painted whimsy mailboxes wait, their heads akimbo angles, waiting. Across the gravel road, the adobe catholic church, the center of life, waits. The Christ mass has passed, remnants of the nativity bonfire lay cold and dark. Tattered remains of luminaria huddle mournful on the church walls.

On one lone lane, someone's dream crumbles slowly. Clapboard and nails oxidize in sun and cold, sun and heat, sun on sun. Days, weeks, then months without rain, desiccate souls, dehydrated flesh break hearts, twist minds. They broke, I'm thinking, shattered by the desert, broken by the brutal high plains. Gentle souls raised in the verdant Ohio valley, I'm thinking, unused to the sun on sun, dry on drought born winds and the withering immensity of sky, were shattered like carnival glass when the dust bowl came.

I am reminded in prayer, of the desert fathers.

"Abbot Lot came to Abot Joseph and said: 'Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence, and, as I am am able I strive to cleanse my heart of (evil) thoughts; now what more should I do?' The elder rose up in reply and stetched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of flame. He said, 'Why not be totally changed into fire?'"
Abbot Lot, 4th century, The Desert Fathers

Faith and ferocity in Spirit, the desert fathers, the mystics seeking Christ's path through suffering and silence found a burning jewel of knowing.

God is in all things, for those who heed His call, for those who seek His will. He is there. He is always there, always available...waiting.

Come tomorrow, the Christmas season ends, Epiphany begins. Christ's light shines forth to the whole world. He too, is present, a constant being who was, and is, and evermore will be.

Will you seek Him? Will I?

Merry Christmas!


  1. was waiting for the rest of the days

  2. Beautiful, beautiful, spare and dry. Reminded me of my desert visit: Death Valley.