We left pretty early this morning, with a complicated flight schedule: Husband and I on one flight, and Younger stepson on another flight. For some reason I was miserable during the whole flight: as soon as I got on the plane, my eyes started watering and my nose running, and once up in the air I developed a sinus headache and some feelings of nausea (also, a little claustrophobia). But finally, we all arrived safely in: Albuquerque, New Mexico!. It's not exactly the home of Georgia O'Keefe, but it's close enough. Georgia worked from Abiquiu, which is near Santa Fe, and where we will be headed tomorrow, to spend the day and evening. (By the way, yesterday's picture was of the Acoma Pueblo, near Albuquerque.)
I haven't yet given in to the temptation to call "Dog Days" to see how Scout is doing. I'm not worried; I just miss her. I did bring their phone number and promotional information along. I know; I'm neurotic. I can't help it.
We didn't have so much time left to sight-see once we all got in, got the rental car, and found our hotel (and crashed for about an hour). We decided to spend some time in Albuquerque's Old Town. Once, while on internship in Denver, I spent a little part of an evening in Old Town, and had vague memories, so I wanted to return. My vague memories were of a little chapel we found, hidden among all of the little shops. It was late evening, but I remembered being charmed by the discovery, and wanted to try to find it again.
This time I asked around, trying to describe it. I didn't remember much about it, except that it was tiny, and that on the floor was painted a tree, with the roots starting at the baptismal font, and the branches extending up to the small altar. I loved the floor most of all. The tree reminded me of Psalm 1, and "the tree planted by streams of water."
When we finally found the small alley where the chapel (actually, more like a shrine) was located, I almost thought I had the wrong one. The floor was much more worn than I had remembered, and there were candles and images of Our Lady of Guadalupe everywhere. A man in a wheelchair greeted me warmly as I approached. He gave me one of those "saints" cards for the Virgin Mary and a brochure recommending Ron Paul for President. He then told me how he had had a stroke and almost died several years ago. "It changed my life," he said. "Now I preach." "Oh, you preach sometimes?" I asked "No. twenty-four hours a day," he replied.
I said I thought I had been to this shrine before, but now I wasn't sure. "There was a tree in the floor," I said, pointing down, "and it's not here." "No, it's here, but it's worn out," he said. And sure enough, if I looked carefully, I could see a couple of outlines of leaves. And then suddenly the image of the trunk took shape, out of the baptismal font, just as before. It was worn so that I hadn't noticed it, but it was still there.
"You have a nice smile," the man told me. "I can tell you will go straight to heaven. I have a sixth sense about these things." That was good to hear. And he said, he was planning to repaint the floor, so that the tree would show up better. That was good to hear, too.
I thought about all the feet that had walked on the floor, and worn out the image of the tree, so that I didn't see it. And I thought about God's glory in the world, God's world that has been walked on by so many people passing through: so worn that most of the time we don't notice it. And not just worn, really covered up sometimes, by dust and dirt and sin and sorrow.
Maybe one of our jobs is to repaint it once in awhile.