Right after returning home from my epic trip to Alaska, I set forth once more. This time, however, I drove only 200 miles south to Colorado’s lovely San Luis Valley for a week-long Buddhist meditation retreat in the Roman Catholic hermitage at Crestone, Colorado. I drove four hours from my apartment in Boulder to the hermitage, where I joined 10 other experienced meditators. But people can also go there singly either to meditate or simply to retreat from the wider world for a time. This was the most fulfilling and peaceful week of my life.
At 8,000 feet, the hermitage is located where Colorado’s San Luis Valley rises into the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east. This valley is high desert with less than 14 inches of rain per year. It is the largest Alpine valley in the world, and it remains relatively unspoiled by people, so it is one of my favorite places on earth.
Crestone is the largest intentional interfaith community in North America, although only 132 people live there. It is is a spiritual and new age center with several world religions represented.
The center of the hermitage a lovely chapel called Sangre de Cristo. I attended the Sunday mass there with about 30 other people from Crestone, who almost filled the 36 pews. Not only does the church no longer use Latin in its services, but at least here the church has much less ritual than I remember from when I was a Catholic in my young adult years. The mass had almost no music and no “smells and bells.” This was the first time that I had attended mass since November or December 1963. That was a service in the memory of President John F. Kennedy at the national cathedral in Mogadishu, Somalia.