One recent Saturday, I went on a tour of an ancient Chaco Indian site, near Grants, New Mexico. Here lived early ancestors (Anasazi) of modern Pueblo Indians. Their civilization lasted from 950 AD to 1350 AD, before abruptly disappearing, and all that is left are the ruins of their houses and kivas (places of worship), pottery shards, and an occasional skeleton.
The walls of this ruin were well built with lots of thin, flat stones. And some of the main walls are aligned with the solstice, so these people studied astronomy. They knew exactly where the sun came up at the solstice, and the moon too! If you cannot see the photos in this blog, click in the full blog site www.HikingTowardHeaven.wordpress.com
The centerpiece of the ruin was called the Greathouse, because it was two stories high. The upper story is probably where the “chiefs” lived, with the plebs left out in the cold in their animal-skin tents, so they could shoo away the elk and stop them from eating the corn which they had planted.
The red sandstone cliffs in the photo are the Entrada, a common strata in the southwest USA, particularly in Arches National Park in Utah, which is known for its amazing sandstone arches. The Entrada originally consisted of very large sand hills, later compressed into stone as they were buried by other sediments on top of them.
It was eerie walking around the ruin, thinking about how these ancients lived a thousand years ago….where they got water in this desert, how they got enough food, and how they kept warm in the cold winters. Did they dam up the water that occasionally cascaded down the red sandstone walls? Did they dig wells? Yet they had enough resources to study the cycles of the sun and the moon, and expend energy building walls to show where the sun would rise at the solstice.
They also built roads, real roads, whose purpose is still being debated (they had no wheels). The roads stretched for miles, and many of them culminated in Chaco Canyon, a separate site about sixty miles away, whose much larger buildings seemed to have served the purpose of a conference center or a spiritual center.
We saw two petroglyphs pecked by these Chacoans in the sandstone walls near the “Owl eyes”. One was a perfect spiral with a large number of turns. The other was an irregular feature that looked like an animal to me. These and many other petroglyphs are the only “written” symbols we have, and are generally not understood.
I was reminded of our Biblical ancients, especially the ones who lived more than two thousand years ago. The prophet Elijah who told the Syrian general Naaman to dunk himself in the Jordan River seven times, to be healed of his leprosy. And Solomon who met the challenge of the Queen of Sheba, who came to test his wisdom. We are so very fortunate to have the written words, and the spiritual insights behind them.
I have also walked around the walls of Jericho, which date back six thousand years. And heard the trumpets of Joshua’s men, and imagined the terrible sound of the walls collapsing.
When I think about the ancients, I realize once again that life is short, and the years flit by faster and faster. And life is fragile. And it’s good to be reminded of that. And it’s good to be reassured about heaven, and how to find the road that leads us there.
“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at Elisha’s door. Elisha sent a messenger to him saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored…..But Naaman was angry, and said I thought he would surely come out to me ….and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leper….so he turned and went away in a rage. But his servant said to him If the prophet had bid you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?….Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan……and his flesh was restored like that of a little child. Then Naaman returned to the man of God and said Now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel”. (2 Kings 5).
“She said to King Solomon, The report which I heard in my own land of your acts and sayings, and of your wisdom was true…….Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you and set you on his throne to be king……He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness”. (2 Chronicles 9).
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….
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