Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday



Each year on Good Friday, thousands of people throughout New Mexico journey on foot to El Santuario de Chimayo, known as the "Lourdes of the Southwest." Some walk only a few miles, some journey for days from the southernmost reaches of the state in order to reach the church on time. My mother made the walk once, with one of her good friends. A lifelong practicing Catholic, my mother rarely spoke of her faith, but it was with her always, as much a part of her identity as her skin and her bones, her mind and her heart. Chimayo was one of her most favorite places on earth and she loved to go there to soak in its beauty and spirit.

After she died, my stepfather asked me to come by the house and go through my mom's "cabinet," a big wardrobe in their guest bedroom/office, in which mom had kept her collectible pottery, glassware, and jewelery. My stepfather was adamant that I take as much as I wanted from this cabinet, since mom and I had collected and traded many of these items together.

Among all the Fire King glass and Bauer pottery and German china I discovered a small clear glass vial filled with dirt. I remember my mom telling me once on a visit to Chimayo that she had taken some of the "holy dirt" inside the shrine, which many people believe has special healing powers for both physical and spiritual ills. I took a lot of mom's things that day, but I left the vial, pushing it instead into the far left corner of the cabinet's topmost shelf.

I think my mother would have approved of the joke. Although respectful of his wife's faith, my stepfather remains what he's always been: an unapologetic atheist. As far as I know that vial is still there, and I get a giggle out of knowing that as my stepfather sits in his office, his back to the cabinet, cruising the Internet or sending out emails, or working on his lists, that small vial of Chimayo dirt radiates its healing powers out into the room, whether anyone living in it believes in them or not.

19 comments:

Wendy said...

That is a beautiful/loving/impish story. How lucky you are to have such good memories of your mom. Have a wonderful Easter weekend.

Boxer said...

This made me tear up. *sniff*

And Wendy is right; just enough Imp in it, too.

xoxox.

fishy said...

Happy Easter Moi!

I love this post, it speaks so clearly of your Mother, her Catholic foundation which blessed her entire character throughout her life. So generous of you to leave the Chimayo blessing in place to look after your step dad.

I find it interesting the number of faithful who spend a lifetime looking after the unfaithful or self proclaimed "atheists". Somehow I think when they seek out a VERY faithful person to travel through life with, they are in fact, seeking the security that comes from faith ... by proxy.

Ummmmmmmmmmmm.... have you decorated a frisbee to look like an Easter egg for the Easter dog baskets?

moi said...

Wendy: Thank you and same to you and yours! You decorating your Docs :o)?

Boxer: My mom was also terrifically funny, so I figured, heck, she'd get a kick out of it, looking down from her cocktail party in the sky.

Fishy: Hah! No, but the dogs will have plenty of fun chasing the Easter Bunnies who are now coming up on the lawn to feast.

Heather Cherry said...

What a darling, lovely little church.

And to Fishy: I think you've got something there. I have lots of atheist friends that don't hesitate to ask me to pray on their behalf when a parent is sick or a loved-one dying.

K9 said...

i love that! ive done some guerilla uncover evangelizations before. i like how you wrote about your mom. of course as a catholic i say it is a way of being more than a set of rules or observances. stop by the dog yard when you get a chance - i painted a crucifixion in observance of Good Friday.

K9 said...

to heather: theres no atheists in foxholes. and nobody ever makes a deathbed conversion to atheism either. grrrerhahahahaha

Boxer said...

bwahaahah to K9, because she's right.

Heather Cherry said...

K9: I had forgotten that foxholes quote... so true!

moi said...

You know what I find funny? So-called atheists who on the one hand do not understand how anyone rational can believe in God, yet on the other have absolutely no problem consulting tarot or animal medicine cards or astrology or whatever other "alternative therapies" come down the pike for "guidance."

CHEF TROLL said...

Wonderful story. You should modify it and enter in the O'Henry contrest.

AL (the inventor) GORE said...

I invented majick dirt! Tipper invented spelling magic in new and really ghey ways.

Boxer said...

Moi, completely true. What's the difference? Tarot cards or the Bible? Meditation or prayer? Why denounce one to accept the other?

pamokc said...

That church is speaking to me too. I love the story about the dirt -- you never know what might work on him ;)

I think the diff. between the Bible and tarot cards is this: one comes from a place of love and goodness and doing the right thing; the other comes from a place of manipulation and trying to get others to do your will and not their own. But I've had to think about these things over the last few years. My conclusion, everyone else is entitled to their own!

fishy said...

MOI,
THERE IS AN EASTER PRESENT FOR ALL US BLOGGERS AT THE POND, COME READ!

pamokc said...

Hi Moi, thanks for stopping by today. Haha on the Catholic Lite comment ... or, as I also call it, "The Church of No Big Deal"

Aunty Belle said...

I love this.


Thar's a hidden St. Francis medal in the home of one of mah relatives --servin' the same purpose. I reckon these non-believers have guardian angels that seek out those of us simple hearted souls who do believe--pain' folks up ya know-- to balance out the cosmos.

I wish I had known yore mama...but learnin' about her through Moi's eyes is pretty wonnnerful.

Happy Easter Moi!!

The Java Junkie said...

I love the church at Chimayo. It remains one of the most peaceful, lovely places on earth; a testament to faith, regardless of religion.

Wow, that was awkward said...

This is a great story! You knew I'd dig this one since I've asked you a couple times about the place - forgetting the name even though I have been there.