Each year, right around the Christmas Holidays, The Ruins at Jemez Springs, New Mexico hold an annual event Light Among the Ruins. They caretakers of this historical site, setup hundreds of luminarias, or farolitos throughout the site. The site has several adjoining buildings including the ruins of the 17th century stone San José de los Jemez church. First this tiny village prepares and lights these tiny magical lanterns, then they open the site for visitors. I had the pleasure of experiencing this for the first time in December 2017. I was struck by the synchronicity of life and how Light Among the Ruins offer greater insight into our own lives today.
As I entered, dusk was slowly casting growing-shadows on what remained of the walls of this centuries-old sanctuary and these remnants of age-old homes. My thoughts and feelings were running high as I contemplated the lives of these ancient tribes. What had it been like to build lives within a community built around a sacred building: A place where prayer and gratitude was a central theme of a thriving village. I stood among the crowds of people quietly revering the sacred energy of the sanctuary, crumbing walls and all. The gentle breeze blowing around the dozens of farolitos in the chancel caused dancing light on the walls. I sensed that we had been joined by the spirit of ancestral prayers left behind by those that placed their desires and gratitude into the walls since the beginning. There was reverence in the air and it was palatable.
It was as if I could hear the long-ago whispers of desire and daily life carried on the quiet breeze that brushed against me. Are we ever really alone, when such energy and spirit still lives on? Have we forgotten the importance and power of these rituals in our lives today?
As the sun continued to set and light faded from the sky, I walked the paths first established centuries before. I swear I could hear the laughter of children giving chase to play, the muffled voices of the women tending to their families. Maybe modern life offered conveniences but is the pursuit of happiness, love, peace and joy any different today? Don’t we all hope for health, prosperity, Love and peace?
The ferrolitos, now the only illumination against a pitch-black sky, lit up the pathways, the village walls, & the dark corners of these once-thriving homes. It was as if this flickering light called us to examine the often-overlooked corners. These places where ancient foundational structure held up the walls and roofs offering protection to those inside. Our lives today are not so very different. We’ve all have the home within us, that oft-overlooked structure of beliefs and ideas that we build our life upon. We often forget the light inside us, and ignore the debris trapped in the corners of our hearts and minds. In darkness sets upon us, and we are forced to search for the comfort of light. We may forget but the light is always there, inside us, part of us. It’s the darkness that reminds us of this. Sometimes, we find the light dim, but without the dark we can often forget our gifts, our strength, our resilience.
It was the beat of the drums that brought me back to the present, and I moved toward the sound. Soon I came upon a scene that transported me to a time long ago. There they gathered in a circle around fire; the drummers, the dancers: those bringing healing and prayer to the present moment. The bonfire illuminated the ancient sacred dress and tools. The dancers included a very young female child, maybe 5 years old, teenagers and adult men and women, all dressed in age-old tribal garb. The drummers, silhouettes against the light from the fire, sang and beat out the rhythms of moving prayer. I rejoiced as the tiniest child held the music and steps inside her as if some ancestor from the past guided her. They danced and sang their prayers for us all. I didn’t understand the language, and I didn’t know what the dancing meant, but my heart was clear and I could feel the tears of joy and gratitude well up. When we come together in service, we are love.
Life, like Light Among the Ruins, is magical. No time, no weathering, no decay or loss ever truly destroys all, for the timelessness of truth, love and peace lives on in us; ready to dance us into the memory of light. We are love. We are One. we are eternal.