Church of the Big Empty

Bear and I just got back from church. It was a GREAT service. Very comforting, inspiring with lots of time for reflection and solving problems. The congregation was there in numbers I’ve never seen, including some of the members who seldom make an appearance at the midday mass.

When we first arrived, church appeared empty which was fine by us, but soon, as we rounded a little trail, I noticed how many parishioners were in attendance. Hundreds of cranes took flight all at once and in the distance one of our members — a female elk — was running free and fast in the distance. I suspected a predator lurking and sure enough. A golden eagle. I don’t know what startled the elk, though, and she was moving too fast for me to extract any information. I saluted her and thanked her for showing up, letting her know it meant a lot to me. Naturally, she didn’t hang around long enough to get the message except through magic of a type that I truly believe works.

Bear and I continued on our semi-solitary (we have each other) way, worshipping under the light, appreciating the virga, letting all the fears and dreads fall from us (me). Since I anticipate walking there for the duration, this is a great opportunity for me to teach Bear how NOT to get bitten by a rattlesnake so we practice NOT sticking our noses (her nose) into bushes. The scampering creatures are out as evidenced by their obviously used, freshly made, little holes.

Walking back to Bella with Bear after the Service

I had the opportunity of figuring out some of the logistics of what I am afraid will be a week without plumbing. It’s amazing how many things you can think through while you walk under the open sky. I also realized this morning that it’s as fucked as it’s likely to get so I should wash everything I need to ahead of the destruction/construction. I’m grateful to a reader of my blog — a former plumber — for explaining what’s going on out there. I also had time to figure out the shopping problem. I will order ahead and go pick it up. This is my plan for Wednesday.

We have a few elite long-distance runners (Olympic runners) here in the San Luis Valley and one of them was training. That kind of runner has a very different physique than I. I’m always fascinated by how nature built us in so many different ways, often custom designed for whatever sport we might end up loving.

Church wouldn’t be church without appropriately chosen hymns. I got to listen to a couple of choirs and a few soloists. The deacons were there at the end of the service to thank us for coming and invite us to come back soon.

The Deacons

I learned this hymn as a little girl. It’s one that often goes through my mind as I worship in my Panentheist fellowship of everything. We only had the opportunity to welcome one car of crane tourists, an elderly man and his wife. Waves between people mean a lot these days.

Driving home, I checked on the Pyrenees and noticed that the livestock trailer is in the yard, maybe a sign that they’ll be taking the cattle up to higher country soon. The Pyrenees was guarding a haystack. A man approached on his bike — only here (and places like here) would you see a bike-rider wearing a c’boy hat. He waved. Now we wave. ❤

24 thoughts on “Church of the Big Empty

  1. Your “church” seems more like heaven than actual churches are. We’ve taken to watching Sunday service on TV which was cozy under our blankets. Hope they settle your plumbing issues soon!

    • P.S. Thanks for the explanation about my plumbing situation. I like reality and just that little bit of knowledge helped me relax about it.

      • You’re welcome! Since I can’t plumb physically anymore, I like being able to demystify it now and then without getting dirty. I fixed a toilet via FaceTime last week (and talked someone through a sink repair this week).

  2. That’s my kind of church! So awesome to hear you experience it. I’m going to try and set aside some time for something like that routinely. Maybe not quite so grand, but some spiritual appreciation for the universe.

  3. Mother Earth is the only church I go too. Such a stunning area you and Bear walk. I like you live in an area where you can walk and see hardly another soul. Social distancing is no problem for me. Not a lot of runners here but we have a olympic rowers come down and prepare here. Of course not this year. We also have lots of bicycle riders. Keep well Martha

  4. Martha Kennedy: Thank you for this and other lovely pieces about the San Luis Valley. My wife and I lived in The Valley for a decade. I worked in healthcare and at the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council. I also volunteered (news host and occasional dee-jay) at KRZA. There are times when I miss The Valley dearly. Phil Davis (

    • I did a couple of spots for KRZA last fall. It was a wonderful experience. Thank you for stopping by. I would miss the Valley too if I ever left it, and I am not planning to.<3

    • P.S. You’re not that far I see from looking at your blog. I love it down there, too. I ended up here because I could afford it, simply that. When I had been here a while, I realized where I actually WAS. I am in a spot I loved as a little kid, riding in the back seat of the car before the Interstate was built, from Denver to Las Cruces and Alamagordo where my dad was doing research. I even found — just before I moved here — a painting I had done of the Sangres and the Rio Grande when I was six years old.

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