(musicians, friends Sabra and Iren and Dexter of the Pueblo making biscochitos in the kitchen)
For the past couple of days my friend Iren and I have been preparing for the Christmas party at the Pueblo. Every year Iren, who is a gifted artist, works with the local children helping them to make ornaments, cards, and god’s eyes to sell at this special gathering, and this year I worked with her and the children. Iren also made beautiful cards to sell. Every penny of the proceeds goes to augment the funds for the Abiquiu Pueblo Library and Cultural Center. The day before the party we went into the canyon, gathered pinion boughs and then black pine (from Iren’s house) to decorate the tables for the festivities. We included fragrant black sage and blue green juniper berries as part of the whole.
This is the second time I have attended the Christmas party at the Pueblo and once again I was delighted by the delicious food, the animated conversation between friends and joyful live music. I am also so pleased with the bright red ceramic peppers, a hand painted stone, and the beautiful cards (made by Iren) that we purchased last night. These are my winter solstice offerings…
This year the night of the party also marked the beginning of Las Posadas, a Hispanic tradition that Abiquiu Pueblo observes. This nine – day festival has multiple variants but the basic story is the same, and is reenacted around Mary and Joseph who are searching for a place of “repose” as Mary prepares to give birth.
When the luminary – a fire – was lit in the church courtyard I went out the door and followed a few others as they approached the flames. Within a few minutes the church bells rang and people gathered at the church door, knocking on it and singing a song about being invited in that was answered by singing from within the church. Eventually the doors opened and we entered the church that was festooned with live trees and a crèche with Guadalupe overlooking the scene. A Catholic Church service followed (unexpectedly for me because I thought I was about to witness an actual reenactment of a story that originated with Saint Francis in 1200 AD!).
I am not a Catholic, or for that matter a Christian. I am an animist, that is, a person who believes that spirit and soul resides in every living tree, stone, star, plant – and that the natural world is a holy place.
However, my father was an Italian immigrant and once, a Roman Catholic, so I have Christian roots…
When the Asian priest gave a homily I found myself listening with reverence and deep respect because the core of his message was that Abiquiu was a most beautiful and sacred piece of earth and that if one looked into the mirror of Abiquiu Lake and saw the moon reflected upon the waters, or the stars in the sky, then one could feel peace. The choice was ours, he said, in these times that threaten war and destruction to choose peace or war. It was up to us.
When I left the church I realized that this message was what I had come to hear. I too would consciously make the choice on this approaching solstice eve (12/20) to choose peace in my personal and political life as best as I could as we approach this next turning of the wheel. I will also light a Faralito on the night of the winter solstice and put it in my window to invite the Spirit and the Soul of the Peace of Nature to enter and find repose.