"Ultima came to stay with us the summer I was almost seven. When she came the beauty of the llano unfolded before my eyes, and the gurgling waters of the river sang to the hum of the turning earth. The magical time of childhood stood still, and the pulse of the living earth pressed its mystery into my living blood."
Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Laguna Pueblo

Being two hours ahead, waking up at 8am doesn’t feel that bad. We got up from the hotel and had some breakfast and then set off toward the Laguna Pueblo to look at the San Jose Mission which has been an inspirational location for many, including Leslie Marmon Silko. The church was a striking white against the clear blue sky and red and brown hills that were dotted with pinion trees and the rolling hills in the background.
Inside, the church had a warm rustic charm from the true adobe building techniques. At dinner last night we had talked about how New Mexicans build adobe structures, mixing red clay with straw and carrying the huge beams from far away with nothing but bare hands. This church was archetypal and even in the floors you could see where the mud had worn away and the straw poked through. The ceilings were made from large beams laying widthwise and then smaller wooden posts laying diagonally across them giving the ceiling a herring bone pattern. It was decorated with geometric patterns, curly q’s and birds, which are native decorations to the Lagunas. In its entirety the building was an inspiring collaboration of catholicism, faith and devotion.

While on the reservation Jocelyn befriended a native who invited us to watch their Epiphany celebration. What must have been sixty individuals took part, some very experienced, and some children that must have been no more than three. The group formed a drum circle three people wide around the plaza and slowly marched and danced to the rhythm that the elders were playing in the middle of the circle on a large ceremonial drum. What was remarkable was how everyone in the celebration knew when the rhythm changes and when it stopped.

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