Santa Fe means Holy Faith in English. My wife and I discovered that Santa Fe, New Mexico lives up to its name!
Our first morning in Santa Fe we went downtown and parked. The first thing we saw was a huge Catholic church with lots of people walking around it. Just inside the front door was a gift shop with many Christian books and symbols of faith. The sanctuary was filled with a holy reverence and had icons of the Stations of the Cross all around the walls. There was also a Stations of the Cross Prayer Garden outside full of huge bronze statues of Christ.
As we left the church and walked to the Plaza a tour group was driving by. We said hello and the driver stopped and invited us to get on board, so we did. As she drove us around town, she began to tell us about the spiritual history of Santa Fe and to use every opportunity to talk about the Lord. (As we were driving to Santa Fe the day before, I had told my wife that we should start a spiritual tour company in some city and talk about the Lord as we showed the sites.)
Our driver showed us the first church building built in what is now the USA. She showed us the chapel with a miraculous spiral staircase. She pointed out the Sangre de Cristo Mountains which she said means the blood of Jesus in English. She shared about her personal faith. She told us how Santa Fe artists sell bronze statues of children playing to hospitals around the country and then used that as an opportunity to talk about the power of prayer.
At one point during the tour, I told my wife that I thought she was from Houston. Later we were talking to her and she told us that she had moved to Santa Fe from Houston to start the tour company. She said: “When I was in Houston, people were always moving away, but the only way people leave Santa Fe is when they go to be with the Lord.”
Later, my wife and I got a bit lost and we were the only people walking down a lonely street. Out of the blue three people walked up and a guy said. “You must be tourists, you’ve got to go in that building. There’s a garden behind it filled with beautiful statues. It’s the next best thing to Heaven!”
After seeing the garden statues we walked to Loretto Chapel so we could see the “miraculous staircase” that the tour guide had told us about. The Loretto Chapel was built in 1878 but the builders had neglected to put in a staircase to the choir loft twenty-two feet above the floor. They suggested that the Loretto nuns use a ladder instead.
The Sisters of the Chapel began to pray. Soon a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, an elegant spiral staircase was completed and the carpenter vanished without pay or thanks. The Sisters searched for the man (and even ran an ad in the local newspaper) but found no trace of him.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. No one can explain what keeps it from collapsing. That’s why it is called the “Miraculous Staircase.” It is an overwhelming sight and left us in awe at God’s amazing power.
Later in the afternoon, I followed a dry gully up a hill. For some reason I picked up a rock and it broke into two pieces in my hand. There was a dead bush about 10 feet in front of me and the top was broken and pointed toward the ground. I threw half of the rock at the bush. It hit the trunk and then bounced and wedged itself in between a limb and a tiny twig and hung there. Like the staircase, I couldn’t figure out how that was possible. I couldn’t have done that in ten million tries. And I couldn’t figure out why the rock didn’t break the twig. As I looked it over, I couldn’t explain to myself what was holding it there. Was that another “miracle”?
That evening my wife and I went to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture to watch a dance. During the dance, a man went to the mike, asked the audience to stand, and prayed a long prayer. We could feel his Santa Fe — his holy faith!