Monday, June 18, 2007

Hot Springs

“Nudity is prohibited.”

“Nudity is common.”

As we crossed the Indian Reservation we stopped by a visitor center for information about the national forest and to get more detailed maps of the area. A sheet of information about one of the hot springs contained the above statements which invited my mind down a series of thoughts such as:

  • Do state and local police patrol the forest to enforce a state law prohibiting freedom of speech, expression and choice?

  • Do forest rangers enforce state laws on property not owned by the state of New Mexico?

  • Laws that prohibit behavior harmful to life and property make sense. What harmful behavior occurs when a person is sitting nude in a hot spring in a forest a few miles from the closest road?

  • Hmmm?

On Friday, we had the first spring, which was close to a road, to ourselves. About the time we were ready to leave, a group arrived. We wished them well, took our towels and memories and set off for another spring. The trip required a six-mile drive over rough road that isn’t maintained. After about a mile and a half of slowly navigating ruts, exposed boulders and sharp rock, we calculated the time of day, our speed and our increasing hunger. The math was easy and we began the return trip to find supper. This spring will wait for another opportunity.

Saturday morning was perfect – cool air, bright sun, colorful flowers, singing birds and thrilling scenery. The spring was located at the end of a fairly steep hike that was downhill all the way. It was sufficiently remote to deter most people. When we arrived we had the spring to ourselves.

On the return, we took a detour near the blacktop to a waterfall. Above the falls we heard beautiful singing in Spanish and went to investigate. We discovered a small group about equally divided between those in the water and those on the shore. As the singing ended, one of the men in the water raised a hand and began speaking what sounded like melodious and practiced poetry. A baptism! As the young man was raised from the water the group on the bank of the stream began clapping while the group in the water began splashing the young man with water. All were cheering. As the man waded to the shore, the group in the water turned toward the pastor and re-baptized him with a shower of splashing water.

I don’t participate in any organized religion but the experience made me smile and I was snared by the enthusiasm and happiness of the group. A long submerged memory surfaced of a baptism in a river in Virginia sometime about 1949 or 1950 or perhaps 1951. I have no memory of young people or children. The group was older men in suits and women with long gray hair in buns. Old people, white shirts, gray hair, drab colored clothing, rules and prohibitions and lifelessness. No cheering or clapping or enthusiasm or happiness.

It my former life, I baptized people in cold bone-chilling water in fiberglass baptisteries in equally cold churches and in shallow flowing waters of living rivers. These memories are fading and being forever lost as perhaps is best.

But, enough spirit dampening memories and rambling disconnected thoughts.. Let’s see the photos!

Hot Spring
Hot Sring (Larger version)

Hot Spring
The world from my view! (Larger version)

Hot Spring
Nibbling minnows (Larger version)


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It my former life, I baptized people in cold bone-chilling water in fiberglass baptisteries ... Really? Do tell.

I particularly like the second photo. Well done!

6/18/2007 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Church I went to it had to be running water. I can't say I'm sorry that I missed the experience.

Beautiful - both the pictures and the words.

6/18/2007 06:43:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home