On the world stage
Crestone has been written about many times in national publications, but last month we really hit the big time as a feature story in U.S. News and World Report. The Nov. 26—Dec. 3 issue was a special feature on sacred places: “Inside the world’s most spiritually important sites and what they mean today.”
This was one of the better news stories I’ve read about Crestone. The writer, Jeffrey Paine, captured the spirit of our community. He wrote about the spiritual diversity here, the high concentration of spiritual centers, how we honor each other’s path (traditional or free form) and interrelate to and support each other. He beautifully writes: “Sister Kaye, a Carmelite nun, finds it validating to live amid so many faiths. When she wakes before dawn to pray, she sees a fire already lit at a Hindu ashram across the hillside and thinks she is not alone . . . and she begins her day thus heartened.”
He also writes in summation “A sense of connection between inner and outer landscape. Self-reliance. Community. The softening of the heart. These have always been the goals of a religious vocation.”
Yes, this is the rhythm here we all strive to dance to. We are so fortunate to be in this sacred place. It’s not always easy (!), but it’s always worth the ride.
It’s a crazy world out there. I know that many people seeking refuge and reading that article will find their way here. In similar ways, we all came. Seeking, giving, hopeful, awe-struck. Finding family, living faith.
A mirror was held up to our community and beauty was revealed—to the world! Wow.
Wishing you good health, a happy winter solstice and the ability to live up to our good press.
Kinda quiet around town these days. The busy season of festivals and tourists, gardens and yard work is over. The firewood is stacked, harvest is done, birds are at the feeders, deer in the yard. Not much to do but the cooking (with friends)—or reading by the fire.
November is an in-between time. Leaves have fallen, scenic colors are washed out. The brilliant winter snows haven’t arrived yet. Good weather to be out walking—you don’t overheat and you don’t freeze. The weather is still mild during the day, yet with nights crisp enough to encourage the final outdoor chores in preparation of real winter cold.
No snow to shovel. The hyper holiday bustle is still a month away. Sorta a “Sunday” of a month.
I didn’t used to like Novembers—dreary I thought. Now I appreciate them. The calm, the quiet. The almost dream-like quality as the earth nestles in.
Good month to have Thanksgiving—as all that introspection makes us appreciate our friends and family, the beautiful place that we live, and the people who make possible our good life here. I recently read that the way to be happy was to every day name and give thanks to the small wonders we come across. To notice and to appreciate.
I feel so blessed to be able to live here, to have a business that is so well supported by the community, to have a staff that actually likes coming to work (so they say—maybe it’s just my cooking) to have a healthy family and people who love me (tolerate is ok too)—and maybe just as importantly, people that I can love. Yeah, November’s alright. Let’s eat pie.
A day in the life
Autumn, time of colorful leaves, ripening apples, crisp nights—and bears.
In the middle of the night last week, on a night when I really wanted to sleep, the dogs put up their “bear bark.” Hush! I said. Peggy Sue didn’t hush, but instead barked at the connecting door to my garage. #*%@! I said and banged on the door. I looked out, and there was a bear preparing to tear open a bag of trash it had just pulled outside. I had neglected to latch the shed door.
This had been a rough week. Too much work, too many words, too much politics, not enough sleep. I was over it. I grabbed my walking stick, opened the front door and shouted GIT! The bear looked up in surprise. I must have made an alarming sight—funky nightgown, bare feet, hair wild, red eyes, shaking a stick at it. “Get outta here!” It turned around and left. The dogs were impressed.
The next night the dogs gave alarm—he was back.
I had had a much better day. It was too beautiful to stay indoors at the office. Peggy Sue & I had gone for a walk up North Crestone Creek. We sat by the stream overlooking a good fishing hole—but I wasn’t fishing—except for maybe peace and clarity. I let the swirl of too many thoughts, too much frustration with the human world drift away. I let the beauty and simplicity of nature restore me.
Hungry small bear stood upright in the full moonlight at the now-secure door. Trash was gone. I opened the front door and said softly “you go on now.” It looked resignedly at me and lumbered way.
Bears are easy.
We need to talk
In August, the North Access Team (NAT), formed as a result of last year’s Sonoran Institute meetings to address access issues to the newly formed National Park and National Forest on the Baca’s southern boundaries, presented a report to the Saguache County Commissioners. In that report they asked the County, on the request of several spiritual centers, that “Private Land, No Public Access” signs be posted along Camino Baca Grande at the trails along Spanish Creek, Cottonwood Creek and Copper Gulch. Essentially restricting access to the mountains from the Baca Grande. This private property is owned by several spiritual centers and foundations who don’t want unrestricted access up the trails that cross their property.
I must take issue with the request. This request should have come from the property owners themselves. Supporting the posting of these trails was never a mandate from the Sonoran meetings. There has not been a presentation to the community and stakeholder groups to get consensus on this and it should not have been presented to the County and Forest Service as if there was. The NAT group has volunteered hundreds of hours and has done great work on the traffic study and the north access plans. They have made good recommendations and I appreciate their many efforts on our behalf—but on this issue—we need to talk.
I greatly honor the spiritual centers that are here. But for me, and so many others, the mountain is “first church.” It is the reason we are here. It is where we go to pray, to commune and restore. To experience the wild beauty. People have hiked these trails for thousands of years—not just the past 35 since the formation of the Baca subdivision. Native peoples from all over made pilgrimage to these mountains (and still do) and were granted safe passage—no matter whose “territory” it was. These centers are small temporal things in comparison to the mountain. They have been given a great gift to be at the base of these mountains—but it’s not all about them. All of us have a stake here.
I’m also concerned about the recommendation that hikers be funneled to the two trailheads that go through Crestone. It concentrates the impact—on the town, its residents and on the land and wildlife in the mountains.
The spiritual centers have cited that they “own” the land the trails are on and that this is a “private property rights” issue. Interestingly, Lexam also uses the term “property right” to justify drilling without having to consider the needs or impact of the greater community. Some things should just be held “in common.”
I understand the concerns of the spiritual centers regarding human impact. No one wants hordes ascending the peaks. But instead of “No Access” signs I would ask them to put up signs that say “Spiritual Center, please stay on trail & maintain quiet. Thank You and Bless You.” Have the trail clearly marked and make that section of the trail be a part of the spiritual blessing hikers experience as they enter the mountain. Most hikers who are willing to walk straight up into the wilderness are the sorts of people who would appreciate this. Let’s use our creativity to figure out parking and traffic impacts and property rights issues—without just shutting access down to all of us who love the mountains. Balance. Trust.
I know that by writing this I’m going to upset friends of mine at the spiritual centers—and I apologize in advance. But, it’s not about who you know, or even who you love—it’s about making long-range plans for the greater good.
NAT is hosting an informational meeting Sept. 15 from 2-5 pm at the Colorado College Seminar Building. I suggest you come.
How wonderfully green and lush Crestone is this summer. Wildflowers are blooming in profusion, gardens are abundant and we actually have grass. Yes grass! Whole yards and roadsides of it! It has been so deeply soul-satisfying to step outside in the morning and smell the wet earth. The plants are singing along with the birds and bees—and I swear, the normally stoic pinons are almost giddy.
Since the beginning of July, every few days we’ve been getting afternoon rains. Our garden went from doing OK to bursting out with zucchini and snow peas. Volunteers are appearing out of no where—like the hordes of baby toads jumping across the T Road down by the curves—dormant for years and now returning. It seems that after 6 long very scary years of history making drought our normal wet summer monsoonal weather pattern has returned.
I saw a rainbow the other day that was so brilliant it brought tears to my eyes.
I’ve noticed a change in our community as well. People seem happier. No longer overheated and sunbaked. That dry, cranky, static-y, on edge energy has been washed away.
It was even worth putting up with the swarms of mosquitoes to get there.
I look forward to celebrating our good fortune at the Crestone Music Festival this year. I suspect we may be dancing in the rain (unless we put up that psychic umbrella over the golf course—and I suggest we start intending that right now!). That cool lush grass will feel so good under the feet—and the music and companionship will be that much sweeter.
America’s press—newspapers, TV and radio—was recently ranked 53rd internationally in its degree of freedom. Our country’s much cherished “freedom of the press” seems to be a thing of the past. Big corporations own much of the media—the news we get is what they want us to know.
Last week Janet & I went to Denver for the annual gay Pride Fest celebration. This is a 2-day event with a mile-long, morning-long parade on Colfax going from Cheesman Park, past the capitol building to the Civic Center Park where there were booths, music and guest speakers. The parade was full of marvelous people. Diversity was the key word here. All shapes and sizes, all ages, races, genders and walks of life. Rainbow flags everywhere included everyone.
It was great to see church groups in the parade supporting gay people, couples openly holding hands, and politicians waving from their rented convertibles advocating gay rights. Even progressive corporate sponsors wanted to be part of the parade.
Supposedly 200,000 people come to attend Pride Fest—yet it wasn’t on the tv headline news. It was ignored or buried. Sunday night I watched the major Denver news stations expecting to see coverage of the parade. The celebration of 1/4 million people was dismissed. Trivial and violent events made headlines as they so often do.
A free press is essential to the democratic process. It’s not just about gays and their civil rights—it’s about everyone. It’s about public information, discourse and participation. It’s about all of us and our diversity as citizens.
Reinstate the free press,
Can we talk about population?
Climate change, sustainability, environmental impact, species extinction, desertification, war, famine, poverty, unchecked immigration, loss of farmland—the list goes on of topics up for national discussion. But, ah, hey—there’s an elephant in the living room. It’s name is population control. And over-population is one of the leading causes of all of the above.
Since the rise of religious fundamentalism in this country, subjects like birth control and family planning have been taken out of the public arena. They have damn near become taboo. You see many a tv ad for erectile dysfunction, but nary a one for condoms. When the “morning after pill” was finally introduced, women had to sue before their health care providers were permitted to even discuss it with them.
Globally, the politics come down to women’s rights and their freedom to make their own decisions—about their bodies, about their economic options, about who and if they marry, about how many children they have, about their very lives.
Women choose to have fewer children when they are educated, have an independent source of income, when they know that they and their children will be safe and able to survive.
Many do not want women to have this independence or self determination. The subjugation of the earth and of women have much in common.
Our world cannot sustain an ever-growing population. This subject must be part of both the global and local discussion of sustainability. We can’t avoid this one any longer—the elephant’s getting bigger.
Love your Mother
When I was a young girl our church celebrated Mother’s Day by giving all the moms a special pot of flowers—violets if I remember right. We would dress up in our Sunday finest, and our moms would look so pretty. It was their special day and we loved them so much.
As years passed, and I became a mother, my children made special cards for me—”I love my Mom”, “you are the best Mom ever!” (I still have them tucked away of course). My children and I celebrated Mother’s Day by working/playing in the garden. Its still an all-day event of making beds, planting seeds, running the water, working the earth. Honoring the Great Mom in her original form.
I learned “biophilia” (love of plants) from my mother who tended her back yard flower garden. I remember lying on my stomach, peering into a patch of lily of the valley to see those tiny sweet smelling flowers.
My mother died when I was only 13, but my older sisters stepped in to fill her shoes. It’s a tradition when I visit them to tour their flower beds and gather seed, to grow, to pass on in the family. Grandma’s miniture purple hollyhocks grace my yard.
Let’s continue to honor the Mother in all Her beautiful life-giving forms. Give Her your love and she’ll return it forever.
Off to plant flowers & peas,
Crestone is the crown chakra of the planet, Crestone is a spiritual power spot. Crestone is a place of incredibly high energy. Crestone is a place of transformation. Yeah, right. Crestone is the place where your stuff comes up.
I, like many trusty citizens, are suffering from Crestone Community Conflict Fatigue. As the old saying goes, “can’t we just get along?” Every community has issues to deal with—growth, taxes, economics, governance, laws and codes, hopes and dreams. We, as a people, have to decide what we want, what we have to have and what we can afford. There are trade-offs as we balance one against the other. It’s an ongoing dynamic process.
I can understand both sides of the current POA conflict. A dues increase to $400 can cause a real hardship to those with a low income—especially if they own several unconsolidated lots. And, also, board members who are volunteers—putting in long thankless hours trying to make good governance.
We need to find a better way to solve problems then recalling board members every time a group of people disagrees with them. Board members need to learn how to effectively involve the members in the decision making process.
We will always have problems, but how we go about solving them is of critical importance. We really need to watch how we act—this being a power spot and all, our feelings are energetically broadcast. We need to be truthful, not make assumptions, not make things “personal,” and treat each other with respect. We have many very important issues to deal with in Baca/Crestone. Conflict takes away from creativity. If we can pull together, we truly will be what our press releases say we are.
Almost spring fever
Last week, while at Joyful Journey Hot Springs, I saw a brilliant flash followed quickly by a bass rumble. Then again, as flakes swirled around. Flash boom! Thunder snow!
The difference between spring snow and winter snow is that spring snow melts! And turns to mud. After a long cold winter there is something almost joyous about mud. Rich and fragrant and a color other than white. It was even kinda fun to pull a friend out of a muddy driveway where her front wheels had sunk deep. To channel away life-giving snowmelt water to make a spot where I could kneel down on the muddy earth to hook a chain—and give thanks that the earth was mud and not dust.
It’s almost spring. Well, ok, maybe I’m pushing it a bit. But, I did see some cranes the other day while driving up from Taos, and they were flying the same direction I was driving. I’m starting to get seed catalogs in the mail, and the huge chunk of ice on the roof finally crashed to the ground. Good signs.
When I look up at those snow covered mountains I know that we have so much to be thankful for. We haven’t seen the mountains like this in many years. The Thunder Beings have announced their arrival early—and we welcome them whole-heartedly. This will be a green year—with afternoon showers, full creeks and the return of rainbows.
Yeah, I’ve got pre-spring fever pretty bad. I hope that budding exuberance will carry me through all the March (and April) snow storms we’re sure to have. But remember they’re spring snow storms!
Open the heart. It’s ok now. The tide is turning. We insist.
“If you’re not worried, you’re not paying attention.”
—Dr. Helen Caldicott
I’m worried. These last few years, with all the warring in the Middle East, I’ve felt that the fate of the world was in a very precarious state. Now I feel that we are at a crucial tipping point. We can either escalate the war, or truly find a different path to solve the problems of conflict.
I’m worried that President Bush is itching to use nuclear weapons, most likely on Iran. Terrorists have not yet used nuclear weapons—but I don’t think it’s because they don’t have them. I’m convinced that if America does a “first strike” of nukes, then there will be a horrible retaliation against us.
Which way do we go? War or negotiation? We’ve already rushed into one war based on lies. We’ve squandered lives, our wealth and reputation. Are we paying attention?
Our country could set an example of restraint and sanity in the Middle East—instead of Bush’s foolish “bring it on” utterings. The Congress and American people need to act now to stop escalation.
On the positive side, people are starting to heed the wakeup call. “Big Energy” is finally seeing the writing on the wall regarding “peak oil” and is realizing there is money to be made in wind and solar power. U.S. auto makers are “getting” that people really do want fuel efficient cars (after losing business to foreign companies way ahead of them). The last election showed a vote against the war and for real change.
We are starting to make the right choices—but will our own karma give us the time to implement them? I pray every day that it does.
The sky is heavily overcast as I write these notes on December 28. The moutains are shrouded in snow clouds soon to engulf us. Another big storm is heading into Colorado. I bring in extra firewood and kindling, fill up the gas tank and pick up veggies and half & half. I strap a shovel to my Blazer’s rack and toss in a bag with blanket and extra warm gear. I’ve got coffee, chocolate and dogfood. Ready.
Forcasters aren’t sure how much we’ll get here—4” or 2 feet? But it’s not Crestone they’re talking about—we’re off the radar—it’s Denver and the Front Range. After the big holiday storm that shut down half of Colorado, we saw just how vulnerable we are out here. Big grocery stores in Alamosa and Salida were out of milk and veggies for days. A week later and still any supplies that do make it over the pass are quickly gone.
We are fortunate that Curt’s & C-Mart have remained well stocked.
Mother Nature has a way of giving everyone a reality check. We humans with our opposable thumbs think that we have molded the world to our liking, but natural forces still rule this planet.
As we start this New Year, I wonder what it will bring. Good news? World war? World peace? Certainly an incentive to seek out better ways.
We as a community engage in the business of the day. We argue over things important to us—in a normal world—but as the storm moves in I wonder what will be normal this year, and if we’re prepared. Rembember that in uncertain times, what we have is each other.
I actually love a good snowstorm—the way nature takes center stage. I plan to go sleding with friends this weekend—maybe even dig out the cross-county skis (might have to!)
With Blessings to all in the New Year,