Thursday, September 9, 2010


"What the hell is the Center for Action and Contemplation?"
This was the most popluar responce I received whenever I mentioned where I was interning this autumn.

I have been here for three weeks, and I am still puzzling over the same question.
However I can give you this blanket statement: The CAC promotes meditation, intentional community, environmental awareness and social justice.

What I do know is that I was running out of air to breath in the suburbs. I was drawn to the desert, because I wanted to approach something real, something raw, something that would expose me -- something unhidden from the sunlight.

I am encountering a diverse people, with diverse worldviews, but I am also encountering living things and life.


The clicking of beads, chickens clucking, chimes clinking, the stone fountain burbling, deep breathing and silence.

Within the white walls of the tiny Aids Memorial chapel in South Valley we take off our shoes, acknowledge the sacrament placed in a round ceramic jar in the center of the room, and sit.

Sometimes, it feels like I am being punished. Sometimes, it feels like a gift.


Russian sage and Mexican Hat Flowers grow by the doorway. In the backyard there are gardens: tomatoes, rosemary, basil, greens, peppers, marigolds. Mexican sunflowers grow tall and tangle by the vegetable beds. There is a stone labyrinth, a peace pole, a hermitage.

Dogs run freely down the street of Five Points Road: Pitt Bulls, Chiahuahua, black mutts. The neighbor's hens wander anxiously through our property. I wake up to the rooster's crow. Stray cats cry to be fed. Occasionally, peacocks strut through the yard, or perch on the neighbor's roof.

I hang my clothes on the line to dry, but carefully around the cactus.

On the way to the center, I walk on the side of the road, on sand, stones, and colorful broken glass. I walk past our neighbor's Llamas. The white Llama with the black spots wears a red mask on his face, flies buzz around his head while he sits in the dirt, detached and defeated.

In the valley, three inactive volcanos can be seen to the West, and the Sandia Mountains to the East.

I thought the desert would be bare, and the silence devastingly empty, but there is more life and light here than I thought. On the adobe houses people hang ceramic suns, and their mouths are always open, smiling.