Monday, July 6, 2015


For three years after I met Lore, she tried to convince me to go to Christ in the Desert Monastery on the Chama River. She oversold it so hard, I was sure I would be disappointed. She also had a house on the Chama, that once had been beautiful but had become so full of Lore's treasures, now molding and feeding mice, that when I looked at it I despaired and went to the doctor to see if Imight have plague.

The German Jewish English Refugee who worshipped with an Episcopal Church was a Roman Catholic. She had been baptized at Christ in the Desert, during one of the early restored vigils. It was a sacrament offered to few laymen at a benedictine monastery. But Lore could be insistant, and she was a total fag-hag. She had latched onto Aelred Wall--Father Aelred--the founder of the monastery, and became an early benefactor of his monks. Food she took to them. Art she took to them. Blankets she took to them. Her heart she took to them.

Finally, one early winter's day, I agreed to go to this place. She had undersold it. Few places on this brown and golden globe are so beautiful as the convergence of the Chama and the Baca Rivers. Although the monastery was much more elaborate than it had been when Lore had first started going there, there was still no electricity in the guest house, nor central heat. Kerosene lanterns and wood stoves kept the winter dark and cold at bay.

Going to Christ in the Desert with Lore was like going with the Virgin herself. Lore was never quiet, so neither were the monks. (I had a big crush instantly on one of the brothers, who left the monastery soon afterwards for Chicago, I think it was: he spent hours adoring the sacrament or the Virgin; I spent those hours adoring his shoulders. It was great to be able to walk with him on Sunday.) My favorite image of that first visit to the monastery and the Chama valley, however, is of Lore walking to the night hours through the light snow with her kerosene lantern. She looked like a little Japanese pilgrim.

Also, that first visit to the monastery would be my introduction to one of my most beloved rivers. It was the Chama which lured me into kayaking, an activity which would mold my life in many ways for many more years.

And, it would be into the waters of the Chama at Christ in the Desert Monastery that I and three other friends would commit Lore's ashes.

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