What are my first impressions of Taos? Whoa — where to start? A few initial impressions include buttery light, the meadow south of my casita where my gaze is lost in sunlight & dry grass, a local mural of St. Francis of Assisi, the mission churches and pueblos, architectural details like carved porch pillars supporting stucco porches, blue gated archways, privacy fences made of sticks (so sublimely ornamental yet simple they make wrought iron and chain link feel obscene!) and of course the ever-present embrace of the Sangre de Cristo or “Blood of Christ” Mountains. To be honest, I suppose I should be posting murky pictures of handscrawled notebooks and journals, as that is what I am slogging through each day, trying to make sense of past thoughts and poem drafts. I do feel I’m off to a productive start.
On Friday night, I took a break to dip a toe in the local cultural waters, attending a quietly beautiful Metta Theatre production called “Mother of God, Similar to Fire.” The play was based on a book of iconic paintings by Father William Hart McNichols, with prayer-like meditations on these images written by Mirabai Starr.
William Hart McNichols, a priest and icon painter, lives in Taos, New Mexico. Described by Time as being “among the most famous creators of Christian iconic images in the world,” his work has been featured in several books, including “You Will Be My Witnesses,” The Bride; Christ, All Merciful; and Mary, Mother of All Nations.
Mirabai Starr, who also lives in Taos, speaks and leads retreats on the connections between teachings of the mystics, contemplative practice, and social action. She has translated and written introductions for works by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, and has edited writings of St. Francis and Hildegard of Bingen.