While I have never traveled to what is traditionally considered a sacred site, I have experienced sacred moments during my travels. Last year, I spent more than 200 hours on the train traveling parts of the Southwest and Southeastern U.S.; but, it was off the beaten rail that I found what was sacred to me.
Traveling from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, NM, rather than taking Amtrak’s direct route, I took the New Mexico Rail Runner commuter train. Because the train travels through Tribal Reservations, cameras aren’t allowed. The view outside was picture-worthy, for sure, but the view inside the train was what inspired me to take mental pictures.
The passengers were in stark contrast to the opulence I’d just left in Santa Fe. Many Native Americans take the Rail Runner each day to sell their handcrafted items on the Plaza at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
I studied the man next to me. His weathered hands. His worn boots. His quiet exhaustion. I watched as he stared out the window and wondered what he was thinking: Was it about that night’s dinner? Or perhaps recounting his day’s work? I, in contrast, sat with five pieces of luggage, taking up the space of four travelers…and was uncomfortably aware of my excesses.
I watched as a woman who looked to be near 100 sat in a wheelchair and dozed throughout the journey. There was a weariness in the air that touched me. And I knew I was blessed to have this unplanned, authentic journey through life in New Mexico. Sometimes the sacred comes just from getting a chance to actually observe, and take a mental snapshot of, the lives of others.