I spent last Saturday afternoon strolling around downtown Santa Fe looking for any of several bookstores that popped up when I pressed my Around Me app, but no joy. Either the data was stale, or the bookstores were too well hidden. Hiding a bookstore makes no sense if the owner intends to sell books unless it’s a Harry Potter bookstore, or in Santa Fe it relishes being hard-to-find and impossible-to-park.
Hoping to redeem my time spent not locating a book store, I walked inside St. Francis Basilica to sit in a pew for a short while. The cathedral has a nice bookstore, so I found what I was looking for, but as a lifelong Baptist, I’ve already bought all the books from here that I’m interested in.
After a few minutes of sitting I lifted my head out of my Moleskine journal and noticed a couple of dozen tourists inside. I was the only one not taking a selfie.
Of course, I felt noble and righteous because I wasn’t taking a selfie and my own phone was reverently stowed in my back pocket. However, as I sat in judgment of the selfie-takers it occurred to me how un-St. Francis it was to feel nobler-than-them. Bummer. That was a humbling moment.
Taking a selfie is not unholy or irreverent. We all experience the sacred in our own way. Who knows the stories of all these people? Maybe they just recently turned their life around and entered a church for the first time in their lives and documented the experience for themselves and for their support group, or they promised their dying aunt a photo since she wanted to attend this church her entire life and now she is unable to come so the selfie taker was doing the next best thing. I’m sure many of those same people wondered why a gray-haired man would sit in a cathedral writing in his journal. Was their method of documenting the experience less righteous than mine, they might ask?
Later, on the drive home, as I was telling this story to Cyndi, I started listing other places that have become holy and sacred for me. The first that came to my mind was Hunter Peak in the Guadalupe Mountains.
We hike in the Guadalupes several times every year, but Hunter Peak is not our most frequent destination. We hike Guadalupe Peak more often. I always encourage people to make this hike because all Texans owe it to themselves to summit the highest point in Texas at least once in their lifetime. But standing on top is an accomplishment, a celebration; it isn’t holy.
However, Hunter Peak is different. I’ve been up there many times, and often by myself. Even when I’m with a group, they’re always my people and we hiked up here together, to be there together. It is personal and holy to be on those flat rocks, whether by myself, or with my tribe.
I told Cyndi, when I die, if she decides not to donate my body to medical school (my first choice) because it creeps her out, and she cremates me instead (my second choice), I want my guys to scatter my ashes into the wind from Hunter Peak. Well, actually, that’s the sort of thing I would request if it was legal, which it isn’t, so I won’t.
My Rocking Chair
My rocking chair at home, outside in our piazza, is a holy place wannabe (holy-place-in-training?), working its way up to full holiness. It’s the only place where I sit, and just sit. It is especially peaceful to sit and settle after a long hard bike ride. I’ve learned if I don’t make time for quiet in my life I won’t have close encounters with God later in Cathedrals in Santa Fe. I need one to have the other.
And so, it was a surprise blessing last Saturday that I never found those bookstores. God had other, more holy, plans for me. It’s funny how often that happens.
I pray that you will find time for quiet in these last few days before Christmas. Maybe you’ll even find a new holy place.
And if you take a selfie, it’s OK. Send a copy to me. I’d love to see it
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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