Sacred spaces

Today I had the gift of starting the day early (time zone difference!) doing FaceTime Live prayers. Usually I’m rushing into the office for prayers. Today I walked out to the casa garden to pray.

It’s a gift to gather with friends across the miles and hold those we love in prayer. Today the bells rang from a church down the street as we began our prayers.

Yesterday, on the way home from an outing, we passed by one of those tiny Roman Catholic churches that are so frequent in New Mexico. Another find only a few blocks from the casa. We stopped, hoping to go inside to pray. Sadly, as is so often the custom, the door was locked.

Sunday on the way to worship at St. James, a man in a tie dyed shirt had approached us as we were getting in our car. He asked us if this was where the overflow parking was for the Hanuman ashram.

Well. No it wasn’t, but it got us curious. After church, we googled “ashram near me,” and discovered there was a Hindu temple one block away. All the years we’ve come here, and I never knew.

We decided to make a stop at the ashram after the pause at the chapel of San Antonio de Padua. I was a bit uncomfortable going into such a strange place. How would people respond to us? What were the rules?

We drove through the gates and parked. It was quiet and peaceful. Yes, taking a breath. It’s more or like monasteries I’ve visited so very often. Of course I can go in.

Remembering to take off my shoes, we walked in. A woman was kneeling before Hanuman-ji chanting a prayer in a language I do not know accompanied by an instrument I did not recognize.

It is a holy place. After our own prayers, we went outside to watch a peahen and a peacock. Other members of the community joined us to watch delightedly with us. One was wafting incense before her. We were greeted with smiles.

As we left, a man was entering to pray. He removed his shoes, rang a bell hanging above the entrance, knelt to touch the threshold, and then reached to touch the transom.

I was thoughtful of the outward spiritual practices that are clearly stated as unequivocal.

Washing before entering the sacred space. Shoes off. Body postures. A meal offered everyday at noon to which all are welcome.

As I walked the path around the temple, two sticks had fallen on the path. In the position of a cross.

What holy, sacred thing is Christ speaking to me here?