Our Lady of Miracles
Los Cerrillos, New Mexico
Karen Rivera 2010
On the Road Between Cimarron and Taos
The first time I went to one of the pueblos to watch the dancing I was served a small cracked hand-painted bowl of this vegetarian stew. I’ve made it ever since I had my first garden when I was a child. It’s rich, comforting and simple but like most dishes that contain green chili, the whole is tastier than the individual ingredients. Serve with freshly made corn tortillas, bowls of salsa and some cold hand-crafted beer from the brewery at Christ in the Desert.
2 ears of fresh corn, kennels cut from cob
1 large yellow onion, chopped medium
1/2 roasted, peeled and chopped hot green chil
1 TBL chopped garlic
4 c. peeled, seeded and chopped unripe pumpkin or banana squash
2 TBL oil (grapeseed if possible)
In a large kettle, saute onion and pumpkin or squash until the onion is translucent.
Add corn, chili and garlic. Add enough fresh water to prevent sticking. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Church Tower with Cross, Chimayo
Chimayo, New Mexico
Karen Rivera 2007
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church with Trolley
Karen Rivera 2009
One of the most charming reasons to live in a small town is hearing the Sunday Services down the street from my house. Even though I have to leave, I never thought the historic Church would. It’s been there since 1858 but it’s being closed and probably put up for sale. To say my community is stunned is an understatement.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville in Southern Oregon was the first Catholic Church built in Oregon. I’ve watched as the parishioners paid for a new heating system, painted the outside, installed new carpet and wallpaper, upgraded the doors and windows and refinished the pews without help from the diocese. Volunteers mow the lawn, rake the leaves and set-up the Sunday picnic benches. Their meticulous yard work makes me wince when I see my front yard. Apparently, self-maintenance and donating a cash collection every week in exchange for a monthly 4 hours of Masses wasn’t enough to keep the doors open for the 100 or so members.
This is a comitted group of people who have been taking care of each other since 1956. It’s not just a building that’s going to be lost.
My favorite kinds of church services are ones that happen outdoors. There’s just something about a group of people singing hymns outside under a blue sky early on Sunday morning that touches me. It seems to be more of a direct spiritual connection when the sound echoes directly up to the sky without a roof in the way.
Chasing down an overheard reference in an Old Colorado Springs coffee shop, I stumbled on another of Colorado’s unexpected treats. Driving through most small towns, you wonder where the end of town is. In Penrose, 35 miles south on 115, you won’t have that problem. The town ends after a few blocks when the paved road abruptly does.The town has no stop lights, a volunteer fire department, and almost no problems except for what seems to be a group of entitled clowns.
The Sunday I stopped by the Cowboy Church, there were more horses than cars. The steam rising in the cold air from riders and the huffing of the horses was a scene out of a cowgirl’s dream. When they read the Rodeo Cowboy’s prayer at the end of the service in memory of long lost friends, I wasn’t the only one in tears.
Rodeo Cowboy’s Prayer
Our gracious and heavenly Father, we pause in the midst of this festive
occasion, mindful and thoughtful of the guidance that you have given us.
As cowboys, Lord, we don’t ask for any special favors.
We ask only that you let us compete in this arena.
We don’t ask to never break a barrier,
or to draw a round of steer that’s hard to throw,
or a chute fighting horse, or a bull that is impossible to ride.
We only ask that you help us to compete as honest as the horses we ride
and in a manner as clean and pure as the wind
that blows across this great land of ours.
So when we do make that last ride
that is inevitable for us all to make, to that place up there,
where the grass is green and lush and stirrup high,
that you’ll tell us as we ride in that our entry fees have been paid.
These things we ask.
© Clem McSpadden. In memory of Howard Manuel, Jim Moore and Zachary Vanwhy.