Today we are in beautiful New Mexico! The first state of our year-long journey on the road. Although we have traveled within her borders many times, it’s always a new and exciting experience driving through the desert river valley of the Rio Grande as the mountains guide us north.
This morning Austin and I attended the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, led by Rev. Christine Robinson. The church has 785 members, including three branches in Carlsbad, East Mountains, and Socorro. With it’s community growing in size, First Unitarian is in the midst of building a new, larger sanctuary, as even attending on this cold winter day I found the existing sanctuary full to the brim with fellow UUs. This was only one of three Sunday services held at the Albuquerque sanctuary each Sunday, and did not include children from the Religious Education (RE) classes which Austin attended.
Rev. Robinson’s message was a popular, annual “Obituary” service, honoring with esteem (and much friendly humor!) selected people from our world that passed during the year 2012. Along with uplifting and inviting music and song by the church band, Spare Parts, and a familiar singing of “Spirit of Life,” the community provided a warm, meditative, and inspiring contemporary service.
If you live within the reaches of First Unitarian and would like to attend, you can find information on their upcoming services, events, and locations at www.uuabq.org or by calling (505) 884-1801.
It’s been wonderful being back in El Paso for the last year and more. I’ve been so used to traveling and moving that our little six-week trip in September and October back East just wasn’t enough to cure my bug, but at the same time, I’m home.
I graduated from Socorro High School here in El Paso back in the 80’s and then went straight into the Marine Corps as a 17-year-old. My friends and I were so hurried to get out on our own. Of my two best friends, one graduated mid-term and married the day after our last class. I graduated mid-term also and left for boot camp in January. While my friends were enjoying the prom I was on bivouac in Parris Island and by the time they were graduating, I was at my first duty station in North Carolina. At age 21, when many young adults are moving out of their parents’ homes, I was completing a four-year tour of duty.
Although I have a lot of pride associated with my service (even my youngest daughter became a Marine) I recently have had reminders of the unique experiences that I lost in all my ambition. I followed the military for 25 years and it was only my position with the American Red Cross that brought me back home to Texas, serving as the Station Manager at William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
Within a year of leaving El Paso so long ago I lost touch with my first love. The last I heard from my best friends was about ten years ago. We’re now in our 40s, married, divorced, children. Although we’ve all gone in different directions, we will never lose our common denominator. And maybe I’m a sentimental fool now, but I’d love to see them all, hear their voices, cry with them, laugh with them, and heal their wounds.
In January I leave El Paso, but in December I’ll be back, back to my favorite place, my desert home.