Monday, December 20, 2010

Mabel Dodge Luhan's "Winter in Taos" -- and Solstice 2010

In reading parts of Mabel’s book, Winter in Taos, it occurred to me that she arrived in Taos in December 1916 – one hundred and four years ago. My reading turned up a section by Mabel that seems appropriate to this holiday season:

Tracks in the snow at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House

It is so good to ride horseback in the snow... the snow crunches under the horses hooves, and it is bright and sparkling to make one's eyes ache; but in the shadows, it is a vivid blue....From far away, down in the valley, we can hear a motor racing, or the high-school bell, or sometimes a rooster crowing out of the usual hours; we can see the smoke curling up from the cozy houses and it is pleasant to warm one's heart by these signs -- but sometimes when we are out riding, the snow begins to fall, softly. The sun goes and all the color. There is no wind and the big flakes come down in a leisurely way, turning over and over. Then there are no sounds to be heard except those very near us. We can hear our horses still crunching in the snow, and the dogs breathing, but we cannot see them a few feet away, for a snowfall shuts out the familiar sounds of life.

Among the Christmastime festivities celebrated at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House are a Winter Solstice sit and tea ceremony held before dawn in the classroom at Juniper House. My husband Skip and I attended last year. People arrived in the dark to luminarios lighting the walkway outside and a few candles burning inside on the stage and around the corner fireplace. After an opening ceremony, we sat in the still darkness for some twenty minutes, then did walking meditation. Sitting again, we watched as the celebrant began the tea ceremony. Just as he started whipping up the first cup of powdered green tea into a fine, delicate froth, the sun rose to illuminate the fragrant steam as he poured it—a truly magical moment in time.

This solstice will be marked by a full eclipse of the moon. It seems like an auspicious time. I hope, in the midst of busy preparations for the holidays, you will join me and take a moment for stillness, and to reflect on Mabel’s words:
Yet, if one listens, there is something else one can hear in the silence, something very different from the homely noises of the distant village. Another world is opened up to one in the cessation and the stillness, another music that is hidden deep within the world, that is usually inaudible and that is impossible to describe.
May you, on the occasion of this winter solstice, welcome the return of the Light, hold it and let it warm your hearts.



  1. thank you for the touch of mabel's lightness of being on this auspicious day.

  2. Bonnie McManus/MDLHDecember 21, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Liz, this reminds me to stop being so busy all the time, especially at this time of the year, and take a moment to be still out in nature. Thanks, and happy holidays! Bonnie