From my Journal

May 24, 2017 — Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, N.M.
After breakfast in the refectory, I turn to walk along the river. A coyote high up on the eastern mesa which towers above the monastery calls out—more of a bark. The sound carries along the canyon walls. I suspect the morning light has flooded the area where he sits, and so he gives voice. I hear the bark every minute or so.

Phil LaBelle, 2017.

As I near the river, five Canada geese and at least fifteen goslings between them begin honking and moving toward the river’s edge. I’ve scared them, pushing them in to action. They continue to sound as I near the bank, and they all slide into the water. The swift current carries them south on the Chama River. As they make their way across, the mothers remain furthest down stream in the group, acting as a bumper so the little ones won’t get swept away. The honking continues until they arrive at the far side, and all clamber onto the opposite shore.


The sun’s light has come down to the river’s edge now, but shade still envelopes most of the guesthouse as I walk up the stone path. The canyon’s high wall blocks the warming of the sun. I hear the plaintive cry of a mourning dove. I notice a small bush which looks like lavender. I rub leaves between my fingers and then take a whiff of the fragrant scent. I’m not sure if the lavender is natural to the area or not—clearly the sage brush is since it decorates much of the landscape—but I’m grateful for its presence whether it was planted by a monk long ago or its seeds were carried in on the wind.
I am already taken by this place. This beautiful place, so deep in the desert, is restoring my soul.