I enjoyed these occasional trips up to Taos, snaking through
the impressive Sangre de Cristo Mountains. On one such
occasion, I had yet another life-changing experience. It was
early December; and though there were a few snow fields
around, I decided to take a chance and visit Bandelier
National Monument--both a forested park and a cultural
park that featured some ruins of the ancient, mysterious
Anasazi who lived in this area centuries back. What made
them mysterious was because they just disappeared, poof
out-of-sight, gone without a trace. Archaeologists speculated
that they were vanquished by a prolonged drought.
Upon arrival at Bandelier, I actually found myself alone in
the park. I felt privileged in a sort of odd way, that I had the
place all to myself. As I walked down the path, towards the
Longhouse--which was the site of the Anasazi ruins--I was
encountered by a small herd of deer. I was breathless as
they ran toward me. Standing stock still, this small herd ran
circles around me. It seemed almost like a ritual. But after
what seemed five minutes, I decided to move on. Even
then, as I walked towards the Longhouse, the deer followed,
continuing to circle me. At the ruins I finally shooed them off.
But as it turned out, the deer incident was just a prelude of
an even stranger incident. The Anasazi "apartments" were
chiseled out of the soft stone, raised high off the ground. The
Park Service had positioned ladders so visitors could climb
up into these ancient abodes. So I very carefully climbed up
and settled into one of these living quarters. Suddenly I felt
a warmth, like summer heat, and the over-cast December
day had turned into a glaring sun-strong afternoon. I turned
and realized that I was surrounded by an Indian family.
I looked at myself. I no longer was wearing my clothes. I was
near naked, sporting a loin-cloth. I looked at my arms, my hands,
and saw that they were a dark brown. My hair was long, rather
than short--and it was black, instead of gray. I looked towards
the other Indians in this "apartment" and realized that they were
my family! And somehow I was made to understand that "I"
was this Indian, a holy man, a Sun Priest!