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From the introduction to SIGNS & SHRINES: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO

Due out from the Countryman Press March 5, 2012

. . .Why do certain natural settings of mountains, groves, streams, and rocks, and certain cultural properties and built landscapes, such as shrines, churches, temples, and monuments, evoke feelings of awe, wholeness, and belonging to a sphere much larger than our everyday reality?

At sites such as Bandelier National Monument, Chaco Canyon, and Taos Mountain, at the Earth Journey stupa in El Rito, the Temple Montefiore cemetery in Las Vegas, and the Marigold Day of the Dead Parade in Albuquerque, or walking the grounds of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, or watching the Mescalero Apaches’ ceremonial Dance of the Mountain Gods, peace, connection, a sense of being blessed, of purpose, of participating in a drama beyond our own, temporarily overwhelms our petty “monkey mind” without our conjuring it or trying for it.

It matters not what our individual religious beliefs are. Such places speak to us in their own subtle, strong, and silent language if we are the least bit open. All I can say is: Welcome to New Mexico!. . .

What struck me so forcefully, from the time I first traveled through New Mexico in 1972, is the peaceful coexistence of so many different, clearly articulated spiritual paths. An early drive through the Jemez amazed me with the sight, in close proximity, in this narrow canyon, of Buddhist, Catholic, and Native American communities.  . .

This book highlights special places in New Mexico where we may retreat to repair our souls, rest from the world, seek peace in a community where the dedicated, such as the Benedictine monks at Christ in the Desert Monastery, devote their lives to offering just such a possibility to guests. One may join in the practice of prayers or meditation, or simply sit by the flowing river in silence and watch the changing light on the rock walls of the canyon. . .

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Please visit my updated website to learn about upcoming events for SIGNS & SHRINES: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO.

http://www.sharonniederman.com/

 

 

 

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Signs & Shrines: Spiritual Journeys Across New Mexico
Text and Photos by Sharon Niederman – Forthcoming from The Countryman Press, 2012

SIGNS & SHRINES: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO takes the reader along  the ancient pilgrimage trails that crisscross this enchanted state where a rich multiplicity of cultures continues to thrive. The mysteries of sacred sites, natural wonders, power spots, feast days and festivals are explained by one of the state’s most prolific and knowledgable authors, and the book is illustrated with soulful images from her travels.  In addition to providing  cultural context that answers visitors’ questions about the history and practices found only in New Mexico, the author provides clear directions, maps and guidance on the best places to stay, dine, shop and recreate. SIGNS & SHRINES  is an innovative guide that will enrich the experience not only of spiritual seekers but of every visitor drawn to experience the marvelous Land of Enchantment.

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The following is a piece taken from my journal written long ago – pre-email, pre-cell phone, pre-Facebook. .
It comes from a completely different time and world than the one we now live in. I am editing work I want to include in my upcoming SHRINES & SIGNS: SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS ACROSS NEW MEXICO, due out 2011, from The Countryman Press.

Lama Hermitage – New Year, 1987
First, there’s how I see myself; how I think of myself. I carry these pictures and ideas up the steep icy path to the High Hermitage on Lama Mountain, along with food, water, backpack of warm clothes, notebooks, candles, charms, finger cymbals. Of my adventure, friends say, “How brave,” while thinking, “How peculiar.”
Then, there are my expectations. All that time, all alone. I expect to be visited by all my fears, those old reliable terrors I know so well yet still don’t understand, as if understanding them will make them go away. OK, so come and get me. This time, I’ll really take you on. Meditate and pray. (more…)

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