Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Holy, Holy, Holy

Here we go with the latest Round Robin Photo Challenge, as suggested by Robin (Gannet Girl) of Search the Sea. The topic is "holy." It's a word that can mean a number of things, some more obvious than others. At its heart, though, it refers to something or someone we consider transcendent, important, "good" in the highest sense of the word - capable of producing awe and reverence and deep meaning.

Problem is, we can't seem to agree on who or what that is. Even if we narrow it down to God, we can't agree on the particulars. Whether we accept or reject the traditional interpretations, follow a religious leader or build our own belief systems from the cultural Lego blocks, we seek answers that resonate with us. This is true for the Baptist and the atheist, the Episcopalian and the Wiccan, and every other flavor of spiritual seeker.

Thus: Sedona and Los Alamos.

Exhibit A: Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is unequaled in its association with "New Age" beliefs. Its red rock mesas are allegedly imbued with harmonic convergence, vortexes and pyramid power; its streets are lined with shops that sell crystals and other "metaphysical supplies." I think Maryanne (see comments) is right about the New Age fervor not being as strong as it was six or seven years ago, but it's by no means gone. A new shop opened just this past weekend, called Enlightenment.

Apparently you have to wait for enlightenment -
at least until 1:30 PM

Century-old cottonwoods greet visitors to this house of alleged psychics.

Amazing natural beauty, crystals and vortex information.

But the same Pink Jeep and other tours that ferry visitors to red rock vortexes also take them out to this place. It's the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic chapel built into the side of a mesa. In the 1930s it was one woman's dream that the place be built. Decades later, with the help of many, that dream was fulfilled.

People can worship God and look at a particularly
glorious bit of geology at the same time.

The architecture was designed to harmonize with the
mesa - and provide adequate parking.

A steady stream of visitors fills the four parking lots that lead up to the structure. Sure, they're tourists, but like the people at the mesas at dawn, they're also seeking something holy. People take pictures, but they also sit or kneel and pray. And the gift shop downstairs does a bang-up business in crosses and medals, books and other religious parapheralia. Is this any better than the people buying hunks of quartz a mile away? I like to think so, but the same impulse underlies both. People are spending at least part of their vacation seeking something meaningful. And this is a place for it, isn't it? All that beauty leads people to awe for its sculptor.

They just can't agree on the identity of the artist.

Tomorrow: Exhibit B: Los Alamos


Now go see what everyone else is doing for this challenge!

Carly... Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly Posted!

Robin (Gannet Girl)... Search the Sea Posted!

Erika... Photographs Of My Soul

Tammy... The Daily Warrior Posted!

Jessica... QuickSilver Dreams Posted!

Patrick... Patrick's Portfolio Posted!

Julie... Julie's Web Journal Posted!

Steven... (sometimes) photoblog Posted!

Connie... Connie's Photo Pages Posted!

TJ... Photo Inclusions: Every Picture Tells A Story Posted!

Pat (DesLily)... Here, There & Everywhere Posted!
Pat (DesLily)... Here, There & Everywhere 2nd Ed. Posted!

Tess... First Digital Photos Posted!

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Carly said...

A fascinating look at how one word can be so personal for each of us.

Gannet Girl said...

I've never made it as far north of Sedona, but it's been on my list for decades. This is a terrific mini-tour. And, as you know, I love the combination of the natural world and a traditional faith.

I just sat here for a second trying to figure out how to spell "tradition." That can't be good.

Globetrotter said...


This was absolutely fascinating and the pictures are awesome! You've summed it all up so very well when you said that we simply seek the Master sculptor who created all that beauty.

Is the New Age movement still hot? It seems to be much less hot since the world decided not to end on 1/1/2000, but then again I'm probably out of the loop. I just remember reading about some of the New Age meccas out in Sedona and I think that's where Maurice Strong built his gargantuan mecca to himself. Anyhoo, looking forward to your second installment!


DesLily said...

I didn't list myself to do a round robin post but i did one.. a tad different, heh..



Becky said...

Now THAT is a place for me to visit. I love crystals and all that new-agey stuff. Plus I'm Catholic and that chapel is just breath-taking! What a neat place!

Tammy said...

I have always wanted to visit Sedona. I have heard it is very spiritual and beautiful. Loved that church, awesome!

tess said...

I love Sedona! and the turquoise triangle. Can't wait to see Exhibit B.