The Mission Church
By Renee Nolte-Hodnett
Oh, what a beautiful day this was at the Old Mission Church in New Mexico. Michael and I had just walked on the grounds in a guided tour with a fully informed Pueblo descendant. Besides the “stay on the path,” she reminded us so often due to rattlesnakes it was a most beautiful walk and reverent grounds. Land of the Pueblo. Boy was it ever so hot. I rationed my water most carefully as the sun beat down with no shade in sight, or any that we were allowed to get to. A cool comfort was the Kiva (a room used for religious and political meetings mostly). Once down from the ladder Michael immediately was inspired to create art of the Kiva. This is often how it is every time we visit New Mexico in all its various beauties, a lifetime of inspired work.
We knew we’d have these glorious moments, if you will, in Pecos, NM, at the Mission Church. After we took the tour we went on our own self guided tour taking it all in, saving the best for last. With parched faces and sweat on our brow we finally arrived onto the church grounds. It didn’t matter to us that workers were present replacing bricks to preserve the site or if the clay and mud machines were loud at moments, it was still a most reverent site. I truly felt a sweet, even bold and passionate spirit from these ancient ancestors as I imagined the life of The Mission Church and it’s daily service and love of people, the Pueblo.
I stopped to chat with a worker as he shared his delight in the preservation exercises. I listened to him share his favorite New Mexico landmarks, one being this Mission Church. He pointed out his favorite place to sit while replacing the brick.,At times He catches himself gazing upon the land and wondering about his ancestors and the comfort it brings and makes him love his work even more.
The air was so clean. I felt so refreshed and full of nature’s colors as I too gazed at every crevice of what’s left of the ancient church. These areas are paint worthy but no, not yet, something is calling me...and then I made it around the corner and there...picture perfect!
This moment sealed the deal. The open sky, the ancient timbers, clay bricks, the shape of the wall, the height, the breathtaking earth colors had me at hola! I called Michael to come quick, come enjoy this moment with me and take it all in, this will be your next masterpiece!
“The timbers jetting out of the walls that are hundreds of years old with the mountains in the background made real how old this place was. It communicated a blend of European and Native American tradition. European architecture built with available native resources. There was a great sense of reverence there Knowing that the place was sacred to the native Americans and has been a religious site for hundreds of years. This painting here has allowed me to take that moment with me.” - Michael Hodnett