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What is it about mountains? Why do they seem to have a mystical component? We all know about Mount Sinai, where Moses received the commandments. We realize the spiritual power of Mount Tabor, where the Lord transfigured. There are holy mountains in South America, in Africa, in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Across Europe, and the West, crosses are placed on mountaintops (see Rio de Janeiro). The Blessed Mother often appears in highlands.

Is it just height and isolation or is there a special closeness (mystically, as well as physically) to Heaven? It is a question we also ask of mountains in the U.S., such as the Sangre de Cristo range that stretches from northern New Mexico deep into Colorado. We'll be looking into this a bit more this week (God-willing; prayers are appreciated) when we venture to New Mexico for a retreat that seems special to us because New Mexico often comes to the fore with mystical overtones. Our interest was piqued when a reputed locution attached to the "1990 prophecy" mentioned this state as a future "beacon of light."

It is a land of mystery. There is Los Alamos. That's where the atomic bomb was created at a top-secret government lab. There is Roswell. Many claim an extraterrestrial craft "crashed" there in 1947 (we're certainly skeptical, but it is mysterious). There are ghost towns: old wild west territory. In Cerillos, a crucifix is said to weep. There is the miraculous staircase in Santa Fe: many claim St. Joseph himself built or at least inspired it -- and whatever the case, it exudes power. (It took a minimum of six months to build, and has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support.)

Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.

There is -- perhaps top on the list -- Chimayó, believed by many to be the site of a miracle which occurred about 200 years ago. Miraculous healings are believed to have occurred at the site where a wooden crucifix was unearthed. Because of this a chapel was built in 1816 called el Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas, explains a website devoted to the city. This chapel, now commonly called el Santuario de Chimayó, is the destination of thousands of pilgrims and travelers each year who come for various reasons; some hoping to be healed, some simply for curiosity, and some hoping to be restored spiritually by the tranquility and hospitality of the surroundings.

More to the point: Chimayó is in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

These mountains -- named for the Blood of Christ -- extend half the way to Denver, and apparently mountains attract spiritual forces on both sides of the fence. For near Crestone, Colorado -- two hundred miles north of Albuquerque -- is a 200,000-acre tract called Baca Grande that is home to New Age centers, shrines, ashrams, monasteries (including a coed Carmelite one), Zen meditation, Hindu chapels, and Native American organizations. There is even a town witch (who casts spells and dances with snakes). The goal is to bring together the world's religions, and it was founded by a rich Canadian oilman named Maurice Strong and his wife Hannah. (Strong has been a top official at the United Nations and global environmental networks for decades; at the U.N., which has mailed out massive quantities of literature trying to unite churches).

And so we see the dynamic in this part of the country as there are various dynamics around the world in places like Arizona with Sedona and California at Big Sur or Mount Shasta -- again highlands.

What is it about mountains?

[see also: Tower of Light]

[see also: Alleged prophecy: does it spell our 'refuges'?, Is there a 'beacon of light' in the mountains of New Mexico?, and Is there a 'prophetic heaviness' across land?]

[Michael Brown retreats: New Mexico, February 26, and Dallas, March 26]

[Spirit Daily pilgrimage to Medjugorje]

[The part of the prophecy pertaining to New Mexico: "Only those in union with God will be able to see in the darkness which so many expected and that already is upon the earth. New Mexico I have ordained as a beacon of light..."]

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