Today, I have found myself quite unexpectedly stranded in the little town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Last night, as I was driving on my way to the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert (where I had planned to take a two-week retreat), my car stopped running. As this is a town small enough that almost nothing is open on Sunday, I’m now having to stay here until tomorrow morning, when the shop opens and can look at my car–and I was only three hours from my destination!
Having nothing better to do, I decided to go to Mass today (at the church pictured) and then explore the town. It was strange; I’m not used to small towns, and it was just so quiet, and the streets so empty, that the place felt deserted. I explored the local university, went past several old-fashioned churches, walked around the plaza with its curious wooden statues, and got an over-sized calzone at a little pizza shop. Then I wandered alongside what seemed to me a nice little creek (though the signs called it the Gallinas River), and I was surprised at the beauty of the slender trees that arched over the path. Although the town is in many places somewhat ragged and run-down, it has a certain stark beauty to it; the buildings seem content, and the quiet is comforting.
I’m struck by all the blessings I’ve received since my car died on the road. First there were the kindly travelers who tried to help me fix my car, and, when that failed, gave me a ride into town; then there was the tow-truck driver, who made conversation but knew to be quiet when I seemed stressed; and the motel, which was full until someone just happened to cancel his reservation right before I arrived, and the employees of which gave me a sizable discount when they heard of the trouble I was in. Then, too, there is the realization of how big the world is, and how small I am, and how much I depend on God, which I always have when I must walk places instead of driving. All of this has been a lesson in dependence and in trust, and it strikes me that it was all perfectly symbolized in the moment, at Mass today, when the priest placed the Precious Body of Jesus into my mouth. I cannot demand, I cannot force; I can only receive. And how good is the God who wishes to give me so many blessings!