Trip To The Southwest

Last month my youngest child, now a grown man of 27, was ordained a Catholic priest!  It marked an ending for my husband, Mike, and me….7 children all grown and all off on their own.  Even though we’ve had a few years of quiet, it seemed this event somehow needed to be marked as an end to this chapter in our lives.

Mike and I had a nephews wedding to attend in southern Colorado, so we decided to just keep driving afterward and take a few days off, just for us.  Of course…. I never stop working so we did a little mill business along the way. 

Our first stop was to Tierra Wools in northern New Mexico.  Molly and Antonio Manzaneres own Shepherds Wool.  They raise sheep and are the owners of Tierra Wool

This visit started a journey I had not anticipated.

How interesting it is to look back and see how truly our lives are directed down a path we are not able to see at the time.  Mike and I enjoyed two visits to special places that I had visited alone 16 years ago, prior to starting Mountain Meadow Wool mill; now it has all gone full circle.

When I turned 50 there were two things I really wanted to do.  One was taking the weaving class at Tierra Wool; I had seen an article about Tierra Wool in a magazine and cut it out years earlier.  I wanted to do the class and weave a rug. 

The second was to visit the Christ in the Desert Monastery and take a couple of days to just be quiet and prayerful stepping away from the outside world.  I made all the arrangements and headed to New Mexico.

At this time Mountain Meadow Wool was a very small company that had just started, in fact it was basically run from my kitchen table.  My business partner and I had embarked on some grant writing adventures and we were doing research on this mill endeavor.  More about that in a future blog😊. In some ways the trip was part of my “research”.

My experience of that week was wonderful and full of stories.  At Tierra Wool I wove a beautiful rug, which still marks my front entry, and I enjoyed the little town of Los Ojos.  I fell more in love with the experience of wool and yarn and color and the creating of fiber.  At the monastery I experienced reverence, quiet, and awe and wonder.  It grounded me in my spirit filled life going forward.

Fast forward sixteen years and here I was doing this route again with Mike. 

When we stopped at Chama, NM to go to Tierra Wool, I loved seeing their new

location and shop!  A truly beautiful place, a great stop for anyone.  The store is inviting and warm and full of color, wool, rugs and yarn!  The building also houses the weaving workshop, and the students were working on their creations, it looked so inviting.  It was made extra special by our tour with Mary.  Molly was not able to be there unfortunately, but Mary was wonderful.  We delivered 5 huge boxes of yarn that we made for them out of their wool and now it will be dyed and sold or made into the exquisite rugs displayed in the shop. 

How did it happen that 16 years ago I visited as a student and now I was delivering the yarn made by my mill for this lovely store that I have had a connection with for so long…how can we ever foresee what can happen?

Our next stop we headed out to Christ in the Desert.  This is one of the most remote monasteries in the United States, in the strikingly beautiful Chama Canyon wilderness in northwestern New Mexico.  It is run by Benedictine monks, and they are open to visitors for the day or overnight.  We were just going to be there for the day this time and my husband was very excited to make the journey. 

The road goes through the Santa Fe National Forest, it’s long and rough…about 13 miles into the high desert.  The monastery sits very near the Chama River and is surrounded by the beautiful stark rocks of the desert.  We had made prior arrangements to visit with someone to talk about processing the wool of their churro sheep.  Father Columba met us and took us on a little tour of his sheep, orchard, and garden. 

Again, a visit to a place that I made a connection with many years ago.  This time it was more peaceful, less conflicted, and definitely a grace. 

We are excited to be able to have the opportunity to work with the monks helping them be self-sustaining with products they grow, raise, and create.  We

spent time joining the monks in prayer and shared a delicious simple meal with them and the few other guests who were visiting.

The Benedictine way of life and work is very appealing and in the mill, we have tried to incorporate some of the basic principles into our days. 

  • Pay attention! do every task with intention, treat everything with respect and care
  • Order and Beauty! beauty and order are contagious, so are ugliness and disorder.
  • Beginnings and Endings! Begin and end your day well

All in all, it was a great week and very satisfying to see how this journey has unfolded.  It is so much easier to look back and make sense of our path going forward, trusting in Divine Providence without worry!  You never know where your journey will take you!

 In the weeks to come I will be updating all of you on our yarn for the monks and continuing to share this crazy adventure which is Mountain Meadow Wool.


39 comments


  • Astrid Schneller Davis

    My dear Karen,
    Lately my life has been drab, compared to our trips to New Mexico to purchase jewelry direct from the Navaho, Zuni, and Hopi Tribes for my “off the dining room table” Jewelry enterprise. we enjoyed and always were impressed getting acquainted and dealing with the Indians.
    Your story brings forth memories for me: spending a night at Chama where we were told there was a bear out that night. Tierra Wool was a special stop.
    On our drive home we stopped at San Luis, Colorado, Hispanic and oldest town in CO. A path had been made up the hill to the Chappel for the Stations of the Cross. It truly is a “Shrine of the Stations of the Cross”. Each bronze cast Station is named and also honors the donors. I marveled at the Hispanic names. Even though we had come in the evening I became lost in time, marveling at the beautiful casting of each Station which gives us Christ’s story. Once I was on top of the hill I turned around to look at the valley. I saw the farmers coming home from the fields in their wooden wheeled carts. I heard the rattle and groaning, heard their shouting. And then it was almost dark. I had to hurry down. Later I learned that the Pope had sanctified this Shrine of the Stations of the Cross.

    Congratulations to your son being ordained a Catholic priest. Our friend who is a Catholic Priest told us there is need in the church for young people to become priests. Karen, a little nudge was good for me, I feel you speak from your heart,

    Thank you, Astrid
    Astrid


  • Lou Thalheimer

    I enjoyed your blog. It will be interesting on hearing your followup on the yarn for the monks!


  • Elizabeth A Moldenhauer

    Thank you for your amazing reflection and congratulations on the ordination of your son. May he be a shepherd after God’s own Heart. My husband and I will pray for him as we pray for all the newly ordained. God bless you and your fiber mission to us all. Elizabeth.


  • Barbara Lindeman

    What a wonderful full circle adventure! We never know we’re the path of life will take us but must be open to what lies ahead. Congratulations to your son. You have a great company enjoyed the wool I order & will buy more for next knit project!


  • Barb

    Karen, So happy that you and Mike had some time away together marking the beginning of the next chapter in your parenthood. Beautifully written. I love knowing that you’re an important mentor of mine!


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