“Why do you speak to them in parables?” the disciples asked Christ. “He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted…That is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” [Mt. 13:11, 13].

I’m way up on a mountain outside Taos, New Mexico. I didn’t see a soul all day yesterday. I discovered the flower above, known I believe as a Mexican hat.

I wrote, read, prayed, puttered, dealt with a very alarming ant infestation, and around quarter past six lit out for my daily walk.

As I meandered along, I came upon a faded green sign saying “Post Office,” by the side of a very unpromising looking, semi-abandoned narrow dirt road. I almost passed by but I thought, No I’m going to investigate, though the entire area seemed completely deserted, silence reigned, and someone like me in these parts sticks out like a sore-thumb stranger.

I walked a hundred yards in and suddenly I came upon a lovely old capilla, one of the many tiny chapels, often used only in summertime, in this part of New Mexico.  The door was open. The interior was dim. Candles flickered. And there, on a Monday evening, in this place that looked to be deserted, six or seven people, men and women, were praying the Rosary.

I’d happened in just at the beginning of the third Glorious Mystery, The Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles. I knelt near the back and joined them.

I can’t describe the sense of homecoming, of rightness, of grace.

Afterwards they said, Come anytime. They said, You are most welcome.  I said, Do you gather here every night? No, Mondays only, six o’clock.

Mondays, six o’clock. At that hour of all the hours, on Monday of all the days, I’d been led down a dirt road that looked as if there were nothing on it at all and on which instead had been everything.


  1. What a wonderful post, and what a wonderful discovery that no one was around because they were saying the rosary in the old church.

  2. And it would almost have to be the Third Glorious Mystery! — that decade, so dear to my own heart, because a now-much-missed confessor, transferred several years ago from Boston to Denver, used to give me just that decade for a penance!

    In the middle of nowhere! The world really is "charged" with the stupendous improbability of God!

  3. Anonymous says: Reply

    Heather, your past three blogs have gone into my Scam bucket. I hope this is not happening to too many recipients. I will keep looking for you there, because I'm totally tech-challenged and don't know how to fix this
    I'm enjoying your trip.
    Thanks for sharing your pearls.:)

  4. Michael D. says: Reply

    Serendipity in the middle of nowhere!

  5. Wild, right?

    So sorry about the posts landing in the Scam (Spam? I kind of like Scam better) bucket. Blogger does seem to have some annoying glitches but unfortunately there's not much I can do from my end. The subscription thing is run off feedburner which like google and all things cyberspace is to me some shadowy netherworld where the Lord knows what goes on or how things work…it may help to set up a google account where you get a gmail address (which you never have to actually use if you don't want to).

    At any rate, you can always just check Shirt of Flame and catch up that way. Sorry for any inconvenience…

  6. @tech challenged anonymous – go into your scam bucket list of emails and you will see a list of options at the top with buttons like "Not spam" or "Move to in-box" or "Not junk". click the box next to Heather's email so it has a tick in it, then click at the top of the list on the "Mark as not junk" and it will disappear from your junk/scam/spam list and re-appear in your proper in box.

  7. Well that is helpful, and hope it helps the guy/gal who's having trouble–thank you!

  8. Anonymous says: Reply

    Beautiful post. Finding those
    who were worshipping in the middle
    of nowhere. But the Lord is everywhere.
    (Note to self: remember that.)

    Be careful Heather.
    Not only is your trip off the beaten path, but it seems more and more people are seeking who they are and what are they here for.

    Peace and thank you for this terrific post and photos.

  9. Anonymous says: Reply

    Heather, enjoyed your essay "Stuck with Fred" in The Sun — at least the excerpt that's posted online. I'll need to subscribe to read the rest of it.


  10. Cheeky, you, for posting that Mexican hat picture, but then it really does fit the part just before it!

    I guess my dislike of parables is that I always see them in a self-accusatory light. If there are weeds and wheat, well I must be the weeds. There doesn't seem too much substitute for loving oneself in the spiritual life, else you'll just take every other comment from Jesus as a sort of indictment and get discouraged over it.

  11. Hi Dan, I'm so glad SOMEONE got that major phallic symbol Mexican hat, that did indeed fit right in with the "seed" metaphor….and yeah, maybe the self-accuser in OURSELVES constitutes the weeds…I'm on retreat in Albuquerque and this is a theme of Bro. Joseph Schmidt's (and St. Therese of Lisieux's), that the spiritual life in a way consists in serenely bearing with the fact that we're often displeasing to ourselves…so take heart…we all feel that way, or at least I do…

  12. I wonder if part of the problem is I'm trying to relate more to Jesus as He was as a human being, i.e. when he was often frustrated and angry, i.e. before the time of his perfection (which I tend to think means he was made perfect in the ability to forgive).

    The actual word used in the book of Hebrews referring to Christ's resurrection means "perfection". Christ's perfection was his death on the cross and Resurrection.

    I know I'm on very shaky ground since we know Jesus was perfect and without sin from birth so…

    An example of the disconnect I feel with parables is the parable of the sower and the seed. A homilist asserted the seed, Jesus, is very powerful. And yet that appears contrary to the meaning of the parable, where the seed is very fragile and has to have good soil and can't be choked by weeds or a myriad of other potential disasters.

  13. Well I think the thing is to remember that God is dying for us to take root and bear fruit and flower. He's not making it hard for us, he WANTS us to flourish. And in fact, I'm pretty sure in the parable it says "the evil one" comes along and snatches up the seed and prevents it from growing…That Christ became frustrated and angry himself means he's in solidarity with our own frustration and anger, while also inviting us to move through and beyond it…I'm on a retreat on St. Therese of Lisieux in NM and Bro. Joseph Schmidt is emphasizing that the "weeds" are often our own negative thoughts about ourselves. So we can't cultivate or harbor the negative thoughts/weeds. They'll come up, no matter what we do, but we can at least not cultivate and harbor them, and then what we do get to cultivate is prayer…

  14. Thanks Heather, I think you diagnosed exactly what I tend to forget – that God's on our side.

    Happy belated birthday!


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