Holy Water

Shrine Cebolla Wilderness 1In the Cebolla Wilderness, an abandoned ranchito with tin shack and corrals. North of it was a steep, stone arroyo with a spring at its head. Filling the gap between two huge stones, a springhouse had been built around the frozen pool. Inside, back in the dark and the smell of water, a tiny shrine was cut in the living rock.

The chisel marks were clear. The santo that had stood there was gone, as was the grille that had protected it, though the scars of the grille’s hinges remained. The empty nicho was touched with blue paint. Carved in front of it was a shallow bowl—for a votive candle, or for water from the spring? There was a stone  to kneel on.

The dim interior, the narrow rock passage and frozen pool, the tiny shrine: it felt like a megalithic tomb, something much older than itself.

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