During the last dip of arctic air that most of the country experienced, I confess, I was praying for more snow! Although the adverse effects of climate change were disrupting the lives of millions of people in Texas, I could not help but feel that we hadn’t had enough moisture for the season. Winter in Santa Fe can be bitterly cold but it seldom drags on like many parts of the country. Even at 7200 feet, we can always rely on the great golden disc to warm our hearts with the promise of the open sky and immense views of the landscape to keep our inner fires burning.
An inner fire
And an inner fire is what I have come to find myself cultivating whenever I am here in Santa Fe. Having left back in March of 2013, I never thought I could live here again. I thought for sure I would grow roots in the Pacific Northwest and finally settle down. When you have a breakup after almost 10 years and your partner suddenly dies of a heart attack not seven months after you leave, you never want to come back and live with those memories. But something happened to me upon my return last June. I felt safe here. I felt held by the land. Something unmistakable crept into my dreams and my contemplation. I have a relationship to this land, either by genetic history or by the fact that I remembered my deep connection to long-held ceremonial traditions.
An onslaught of progress
Where I live, there is a large 90-acre plot of land of open space that is about to be developed. It has essentially been open space for the neighborhood for over ten years. But now they are bringing in the trucks and bulldozers to put up 393 new homes. During the last snow, my mom and I went for a walk on that land. You cannot help but notice the old growth Juniper trees, some as tall as 20 feet. You see some piñon trees that have adapted and are growing nearly inside some of the junipers for protection. This land has stood the test of time. With stunning views of the Sangre De Cristos to the east and the vast expanse of the western sky opposite that, I can see why it would be sweet to put up even more houses.
Spirits of the land
The snow makes the landscape even more magical. It establishes a silence like nothing else. One day after work, I resolved to go for a walk on my own. As I made a tight circle around the property at sunset, I came to a stop on the edge of the dry riverbed, or Arroyo as they are called here, that runs along the north end. I had some contemplative music playing through my headset. I stood there imaging the land with no houses. I had such an unexpected sensation of an almost warm electricity that came up into my body from the ground. I could feel that the land was alive! I began to cry. As I cried, I imagined the sensation was an invitation to commune with all the spirits of the land: the birds, the plants, the trees, the stones. Despite the dry, seemingly lifelessness of it, I could feel the land’s presence in my heart. I sent out the feeling like a beacon to all the neighbors, hoping that the message would transmit to as many people as could sense it. The message I heard was that the construction needed to be delayed… indefinitely. But was that my feeling or something greater?
The allure of Santa Fe
Yes, there are amazing and unique aspects of this area that draw many a tourist. Skiing, history, local cuisine, ancient tradition. And I still embrace them although I don’t ski! Being able to slip into the lobby at the Inn at the Loretto for a glass of wine and an intimate conversation in front of the fire creates such a sense of timelessness and luxury.
A stroll around the Plaza is right out of a movie. With over 400 years of history in the city and the thousands and thousands of years of Pueblo Indian culture, you sense an old world feel that is truly one of a kind. A romantic dinner at the La Fonda or a trip to Chimayo can be unforgettable.
Local lore says that when you arrive here as a transplant you will either be welcomed or spit out. Perhaps it is this hidden energy that must be entreated in order to live in Santa Fe. Although the pandemic has really placed limits on what we can do, you can still make a pilgrimage to come to this magical Southwestern city and admire the mountains, become attuned to the vast skies, the almost endless sunshine and appreciate the cultural intersectionality that has existed for so long. Our inner world that we have been called to inhabit at this time is decorated with the world of Holy Faith. That is what the city’s name means in Spanish. Bring your sunglasses and plenty of warm clothes, but when you come to Santa Fe – especially in the winter – always bring your reverence.
There is much to be revered here, and if you listen, the land will bless you for it.