Stone Upon Stone, Soul Upon Soul

 

582_1609 abo

For good or ill, they left their mark.
Rich in their vow of poverty;
at least by local standards.
They had their cigars and their chocolate.
They had their music and their books.
They had their Faith.
They had untold riches
in willing backs and upturned faces.

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Stone on stone. Wooden crosses.
Beams and candles. Silver chalice.
True, the graveyard was filling up
but there was work to be done.
They were here on a mission;
called by the Assisian of long ago.
Soul upon soul. Tally and count.
Blessed waters all poured out.

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Carry your burden. Stone upon stone.
Eyes lifted to heaven. Recall your lessons.
Soul upon soul. No room for doubt.
Where friars go, others follow.
Scores were settled by Godly force.
The “Holy Office” — an instrument of peace
in the wild lands west of the Pecos,
in this province of sand and salt.

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Women tending the graveyards,
upturned faces looked away. The cost was high.
The flesh was less willing, the spirit weak.
Some days the raiders came.
Voices raised – a stone thrown in anger.
An arrow. The fields are on fire.
The burden was there but with few willing backs.
Brother, tell us again about Heaven.

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Over the pass, it was a long slow walk.
First one mission and then another
left crumbling in the sun.
Stone upon stone. Soul upon soul.
A vow of poverty is for living,
not dying in the sand and salt.
So brothers, pick up the pace!
There will be other missions, but not here.

582_1610 abo

*     *     *

Enchanted, More or Less — 2017

https://malpaisweb.wordpress.com

Comments 7

 
Rosy Cole on Thursday, 20 April 2017 14:00

Sad and inspiring and beautiful, Ken. It could so easily be applied to our present age and, I guess, to almost every culture on the planet. But our western world will never have known what it is to live in harmony with the land in the way they did, though we may hope to leave some hallmarks of Faith amid the overwhelming detritus. This piece has such resonance for the Easter season. Thank you!

Sad and inspiring and beautiful, Ken. It could so easily be applied to our present age and, I guess, to almost every culture on the planet. But our western world will never have known what it is to live in harmony with the land in the way they did, though we may hope to leave some hallmarks of Faith amid the overwhelming detritus. This piece has such resonance for the Easter season. Thank you!
Ken Hartke on Thursday, 20 April 2017 15:39

Thanks for the comment. Even after 350 years of abandonment the Franciscans will occasionally come back to Quarai Mission for a memorial service. Quarai is the best preserved of the three Salt Missions.

Thanks for the comment. Even after 350 years of abandonment the Franciscans will occasionally come back to Quarai Mission for a memorial service. Quarai is the best preserved of the three Salt Missions.
Rosy Cole on Thursday, 20 April 2017 16:28

Your trip to Perugia will surely have increased an understanding and appreciation of the settlement. Going even further back, what is astonishing these days is the evidence coming to light of links between ancient civilisations long before history records them. It does raise the question of whether solutions to daily living were copied and traded or were they the result of a global collective unconscious? One thing is certain, the spirit lives on and gathers new momentum to be rekindled down the centuries.

This is a fascinating region altogether and one most of us know very little about, so these posts are especially illuminating.

Your trip to Perugia will surely have increased an understanding and appreciation of the settlement. Going even further back, what is astonishing these days is the evidence coming to light of links between ancient civilisations long before history records them. It does raise the question of whether solutions to daily living were copied and traded or were they the result of a global collective unconscious? One thing is certain, the spirit lives on and gathers new momentum to be rekindled down the centuries. This is a fascinating region altogether and one most of us know very little about, so these posts are especially illuminating.
Ken Hartke on Friday, 21 April 2017 17:16

There is a curious historical connection between Perugia and New Mexico. Los Hermanos Penitentes (Penitent Brotherhood) played a major role in colonial and early New Mexico as a lay religious order in the isolated settlements. Priests were not available in many places so the Penitentes served as the religious leaders until the priest made the circuit through the settlements. They were a parallel moral force to the normal authority of the church and maintained their own chapels (Moradas) and indulged in self-flagellation and some other extreme practices. They still exist to a lesser degree and are not as extreme but are mostly whispered about. They are a continuing manifestation of the first penitent flagellants that were documented in Perugia in the 1259.

There is a curious historical connection between Perugia and New Mexico. Los Hermanos Penitentes (Penitent Brotherhood) played a major role in colonial and early New Mexico as a lay religious order in the isolated settlements. Priests were not available in many places so the Penitentes served as the religious leaders until the priest made the circuit through the settlements. They were a parallel moral force to the normal authority of the church and maintained their own chapels (Moradas) and indulged in self-flagellation and some other extreme practices. They still exist to a lesser degree and are not as extreme but are mostly whispered about. They are a continuing manifestation of the first penitent flagellants that were documented in Perugia in the 1259.
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 22:34

The Penitentes would likely have been influenced by St Francis of Assisi but become overzealous in their supposed mortification of the flesh. That era was shortly after his death. Same thing happened here in Britain, and I dare say in New England, with the Puritans of the 17th century and their misinterpretation of the Bible.

The Penitentes would likely have been influenced by St Francis of Assisi but become overzealous in their supposed mortification of the flesh. That era was shortly after his death. Same thing happened here in Britain, and I dare say in New England, with the Puritans of the 17th century and their misinterpretation of the Bible.
Ken Hartke on Thursday, 27 April 2017 03:58

So odd how things are connected. I'm researching the local New Mexico ritual dancers (Matachines) which are part religious and part story telling. Several references say they have a Moorish origin with a similar root as English Morris Dances.

So odd how things are connected. I'm researching the local New Mexico ritual dancers (Matachines) which are part religious and part story telling. Several references say they have a Moorish origin with a similar root as English Morris Dances.
Rosy Cole on Thursday, 27 April 2017 12:06

So interesting. Sounds a bit like the whirling dervishes of Turkey. Looking forward to a post on that in due course :-)

So interesting. Sounds a bit like the whirling dervishes of Turkey. Looking forward to a post on that in due course :-)
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