I have always been overwhelmed by the beauty and wonder of our National Parks. I simply don’t have the words to describe the ones I have seen. The peaks of the Grand Tetons are majestic, the waterfalls, mountains and valleys of Yosemite are spectacular and the geysers, hot springs and wildlife of Yellowstone are awesome. Mesa Verde is not only beautiful but haunting.
I was captivated, not only, by the beauty of Mesa Verde but by the story and remains of the people who once inhabited a seemingly uninhabitable place.
The Anasazi or Ancestral Puebloans came to this place about 1400 years ago. They lived and flourished there for over 700 years and simply vanished by 1300AD. They were gone by the time Columbus discovered North America. They raised corn, squash and beans on the mesa. They hunted and used pinyon and juniper for building materials. They weaved baskets and finally learned to make pottery and use the bow and arrow.
The amazing thing is that they moved off the mesa into the cliffs and built elaborate dwellings of sandstone and mortar. The pueblos were positioned to protect them from the harsh winters and predators.
The pueblos consist of elaborate multistoried buildings and a room called a kiva. The kiva was an underground chamber used for healing rites and as a ceremonial room for prayer. They prayed for rain, luck in hunting and good crops. As I stood there, in awe at what these primitive people had done, I wondered if they had a soul. To whom did they pray. There is no evidence that they ever heard of Jesus, Muhammad, Abraham or Moses. There are no statues of Buddha or Hindu Shrines. The mystery about the salvation of these people is in the same category with the creation of the universe, dinosaurs, Cro Magan Man and Neanderthal man. Maybe there is more than one path to the house of mansions in the hereafter.
For now I am like Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
In many ways the pueblo people were more advanced than many of us today. The cliff dwellings sure beat most of the mobile home parks I have seen. It was dangerous climbing up some of the ladders to their living quarters but not any more dangerous than some of the modern bridges over our rivers or driving a car at a high rate of speed down the interstate.
As for me, I’m now just thankful to be home from my vacation, and sitting on my porch in Salado. I’m trying to not worry about the souls of the Anasazi but remain in awe at their accomplishments and ability to survive without; TV, washing machines, automobiles, air conditioning, fast food and of greatest importance, the internet.