19 April 2011

Santa Fe

We stared, dutifully, at the Mysterious Staircase in the Loretto mission church. 
The church is now a private museum. No more holy water flows there and the stench of incense has long been cleared away. Now we take in the marvelous staircase -- no visible support! -- as a tape loops through telling a fairy tale story of the mysterious carpenter who built it.

In any case, the stairs rise in a spiral, if not Yeats' beloved winding gyre. They seem to float and to suggest that yes, one should follow the curve upward, this single helix that floats, by illusion or craft.

Later, we enjoyed a large lunch a few blocks away, as local and authentic as you can wish for. Dignified Latina aunts and grandmothers on the left, a new west lesbian in front and, to our side, a very stylish and surprisingly effeminate father with his daughter who goes to the arts high school and manages to send 120 text messages a day.

Real life, such as it is.

We finished our enchiladas and headed to the Pecos pueblo ruins, about 30 minutes out of town. It was late afternoon, nearly the golden hour. We were nearly alone among the cinnamon-colored stones that the Pueblans and put into place a thousand years ago. 

A kiva had been restored. I learned from a pamphlet  that kivas were used for religious ceremonies. This was was round, and underground. You descend a ladder. The ceiling then represents heaven, the center of the room a sort of navel of the world -- a portal from the depths where men emerge, the round room stands for the world itself. You'd have to go down to rise up. Joseph Campbell would have something erudite to say about this, and connect it with other traditions in other times and places. The one story under it all. Part of it right there, the nuns and the Pueblans, rising and going down, like the angels in the patriarch's dream.

But it only made me wonder:  Maybe I need a ladder of my own.  I'd like to get the hell up and out. Crawl out of my skin, my skull, my tired opinions, and my flaccid habits.

I guess I'll have to look around and scrounge up a rail and some rungs, put a ladder together somehow and hope there'll be a place to lean it against.

And something worth climbing to.

photos (c) me

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