This is the Church at Black Mesa. On the satellite maps it’s labelled the cemetery at Black Mesa. The first time I saw it was in a black and white framed work of art hanging in a little gallery in Los Alamos. The stark white crosses in the sweep of grayscale struck something deep in me. We left Los Alamos and wandered the roads towards Taos in our typical fashion of “shun-piking.” Back in the early days of turnpike fees, wanderers would take the back roads to avoid paying tolls. Frank and I took this up as our weekend adventures, following blue highways and dirt trails for no reason other than to do so. Somewhere outside Los Alamos, we turned left into the landscape and the mesa loomed dark and threatening ahead of us. On that day, it was threatening in many ways as a thunderstorm gather around it; apparently mesas are not the safest places when storms hit. This time, it was a day with a brilliant blue sky backdrop to the mountains beyond. Black Mesa however continued to live up to its name, dark and forbidding.
I got a bit closer to the church this time and it was easier to set up the shots because I wasn’t busy dodging lightning streaks. Whatever the reason, this is a treasured pilgrimage. I’ve learned since that there is a road leading to the cemetery. Another time. For now this picture inspires me with the enormous presence of the mesa and the soft punctuation of the crosses that mark the graves.
I’m on another journey this week. Tomorrow, my colleagues and I present a workshop at the Center for Mindfulness, Health and Science on holding the integrity and fidelity of adaptations. In the aftermath of chaplaincy training, it is a good time to explore that topic.
See you the other side!