Burro Alley Cafe

Last Tuesday afternoon, Michael and I took a little drive up to New Mexico’s state capitol: Sante Fe. I think it’s pretty cool that we live near by where the historic Sante Fe trail starts and now we can say we’ve visited the city where it ended!

We originally wanted to eat at a Mexican restaurant called Los Mayas which was listed on Sante Fe’s tourism website and was highly reviewed. Unfortunately it either moved or shut down because after an hour of driving and walking around, we never did find it. But while looking for Los Mayas, we ended up in the downtown shopping and art district. 
So we spent the rest of our time walking by rows of other restaurants, art galleries, and Native American jewelry stores. Michael and I eventually decided to eat at a little place called ‘Burro Alley Cafe’. It was absolutely gorgeous outside so we sat on the back patio. Interesting menu selection, but Michael ordered his trusty bacon cheeseburger and I ordered the hummus and pita appetizer.
They had an overwhelming array of pastries and sweets, but I decided on an anise-flavored butter cookie called a Bizcochito. Bizcochito cookies are unique to New Mexico and are actually the state’s official cookie. I didn’t know that at the time – I just heard the girl behind the counter say something about anise and a cookie and I was sold. It reminded me of a Snickerdoodle, except of course, with anise. (I foresee a recipe experiment with Bizcochito in my near future…)

In front of the American Indian War Memorial Monument in 
Sante Fe Plaza

We left Burro Alley Cafe and walked some more in what’s called the “Heart of Sante Fe”, or Sante Fe’s city square. The square has a small performing stage, a few food stalls, a grassy area, and a monument dedicated to the American Indian War. Michael and I stopped for a while to listen to one man playing a harp, people watch, and peruse more Native American jewelry and artwork.

From there we went to get a closer look at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi then headed back towards more of the shopping and art galleries. On our way to to Galerie Züger, we passed a man sitting down and holding a sign asking for money. My heart felt super compassionate towards the guy, but we didn’t stop to talk to him. It sucked. I hate it when my heart breaks for someone but I don’t yield to it and rationalize it away. It’s sooo disobedient and irresponsible to Jesus. Not only that, but I thought I heard the name “Ralph” as we walked by him so it was really obvious God wanted to touch this man. But even if I hadn’t felt anything or received any words, Jesus already gave the command two thousand years ago to love as you go. There’s simply no excuse for disobedience.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi

We went ahead to view the exhibits at Galerie Züger. They were currently displaying sculptures by Gib Singleton and paintings by Michael Atkinson. Pope Benedict XVI’s crosier is topped by one of Singleton’s bronze crucifixes and his work is internationally-renowned. I admit that I’ve started to find depictions of Jesus hanging on a cross morbid (Jesus is alive and well!), so some of Singleton’s art wasn’t as appealing to me. But there were a couple sculptures (one showing a Roman soldier whipping Jesus and another with Jesus collasped under the weight of the cross) that nearly brought me to tears. Seeing Jesus so submitted and vulnerable always touches me. We spit upon, slapped, mocked, and nailed God-in-the-flesh to a crude wooden cross. Yet He endured it all without saying a word. The One who deserved to be the most exalted allowed himself to be the most trampled and abused for our sake:

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:22-24)

So then I felt even more like a turd for not submitting myself to the compassion Jesus has for the poor. Here I was, playing the pious little Christian in my safe bubble of Christian art. But admiring a figurine of Jesus on a cross doesn’t put food in the mouth of the hungry. I felt sick at how religious I was being. I also realized I was waiting on Michael to take the lead, which is normally the healthy order of things in a marriage. But Jesus is my Lord – not my husband. So I serve the Lord first and Michael second. Michael and I are one flesh, but each individually accountable for our actions before Jesus. As soon as we were done viewing the artwork I told Michael I thought I needed to go back, so we did. I hesitated out of my own perceived awkwardness, but the reality that His Kingdom is not of this world put things back into perspective for me.

We approached the man again and asked him if the name ‘Ralph’ meant anything to him. But he said the only thing he could think of was that ‘Ralph’ reminded him of his drinking days (which I’m sure are far from over). We asked him if there was anything he needed prayer for and quite bluntly he told us he needed protection from people trying to murder him. Now whether that’s true or not isn’t my business – my one and only mission is to love. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the One who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:4) Whether this man suffered from schizophrenia, demonic oppression or men were genuinely trying to murder him is irrelevant. Jesus is the solution to all those problems, and it’s my job as His servant to proclaim and demonstrate that truth. Michael and I thanked God for his life, declared protection and rebuked any murderous spirit pursuing him.

But after we left I still didn’t feel at peace for being obedient. I told myself it wasn’t about me and it was about Jesus, but I still felt… disappointed. It just didn’t seem like the encounter had any real, lasting impact on that man and I really struggled with how impersonal it felt. That of course brought in feelings of guilt for not being obedient the first time around: “Was it because I ignored him? Did I make it awkward? Did I make him feel like an afterthought? Jesus wouldn’t have done that. I should have listened more. I should have gotten him food. I should have done more…” In the gospel of John it says that Jesus did not look at men’s faces, and so often I find myself doing the exact opposite. I know that Jesus was so determined to do only what he saw the Father doing not just for our good, but for His perfect will too. There’s simply no room for the approval of men when you’re wholly satisfied by the approval of the Father. And more importantly, Michael reminded me, truth isn’t based on a feeling. It doesn’t matter if I don’t “feel” obedient, the truth is, because of Jesus, I am obedient. Obedience is not dependent on a feeling! The battle for truth is in our minds: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) I had to tell myself that no matter how I felt or how that man felt, I did what God instructed me to do and that was all that mattered.

Outside of Holy Spirit Espresso

Still wrestling with my emotions, we walked on to find a place to get coffee. Michael stopped two guys holding a couple cups and asked where they got them. “Oh man, let me tell you where the best place to get coffee is… And the guy is super cool.” He pointed us in the direction of a literal hole in the wall named – get ready for this – “Holy Spirit Espresso.” Would I seem entirely credulous if I told you I took it as a sign that God was affirming Michael’s and my obedience and our way of life? “For all who are led by the spirit are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) All rationalizing and reasoning aside, I still find I have the heart of a child. But I guess that’s best for the Kingdom anyways, isn’t it?

And as if to prove it was meant to be interpreted solely as a sign from the Lord (and not “the best coffee in Sante Fe” as the sign boasted), the coffee was awful and the owner less than friendly. There was literally no honest way we could claim it was for a good cup of joe we were led there. The only explanation was that we were led by the Holy Spirit. Maybe that’s taking things too far, but who am I to be choosy with my “signs” from the Lord?

On our way home we saw a dust devil and it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen since we’ve been here. We were maybe about a mile and a half away when we first saw it. As we got closer you could better gauge just how big it was. My grandpa once shared how dangerous they were, but I had only seen the small ones you occasionally see in suburban settings that last for a few seconds and dissipate. I couldn’t imagine being worried over something like that. But this guy was huge. It would have been no trouble for it to cause damage to a person or other outdoor objects.

“The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart
from before the people” (Exodus 13:22)

Some say when the Israelites were leaving Egypt that the pillar of cloud God use to lead them by day may have been a large dust devil or whirlwind. So yet again our “pillar of cloud by day”, our “Holy Spirit Espresso”, our Counselor and Friend reminds us He will never leave us or forsake us. In all our comings and goings, He is faithful to the very end and is our ever-present Help in time of need.

It’s hard not to love a God as big and creative as that.

What are some ways God communicates with you? Do you seek those opportunities out or do they seem to “fall in your lap”?

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