Lydia in Taos

Lydia is a sophomore President’s Scholar with a double major in Spanish in Dedman College and theater studies in Meadows School of the Arts. She is spending the June 2009 term in SMU-in-Taos, where she will be taking plant biology and acting scene study. Then she plans to visit the city of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where her sister works with the nonprofit Food for the Hungry.

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Two Taos Toms and a full moon hike

After going for a run and taking a much-needed shower (my hair still smelled like campfire from Friday night … ), I went to the Taos First Baptist Church on Sunday morning. It is a quaint adobe building stuffed with pews and warm hearts. Everyone was very friendly, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the service. Having the opportunity to worship God with people I have never met before is such a blessing. I felt like a part of the family. They even urged me to attend the potluck lunch after next week’s service!

Tom #1
Leaving church I filled up on gas, grabbed a Mocha Blanca from a local coffee shop called World Cup, and stopped at Wal-Mart to buy some hiking boots for a hike later in the evening.

A man in his mid 20s ahead of me in the checkout line pointed to the boots and asked, “Going hiking?” We chatted about Taos while waiting to pay and then very politely said to each other, “Well, have a great day?” “Thanks, you too!”

I swiped my credit card, smiled at the nice lady, signed on the digitalized line and found myself back in the parking lot when I heard a voice behind me say, “Hey girl!” I figured the “girl” must be me so I turned around to find the man from the checkout line walking toward me. He wanted to hang out sometime and gave me his number. “I’m Tom, by the way,” he said, offering his hand for a good shake. “I’m Lydia,” I responded, acquiescing to the typical gesture of meeting. “Nice to meet you.”
“Cool, well have a great day.” I got back in my car thinking, goodness gracious, that was weird.

Tom #2
IMG_4418.JPGMy friend Jordan and I went for a drive heading toward Cimarron National Park, but since we wanted to make it back to campus in time for the Sunday barbeque, we decided to visit a closer monument: the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial.

IMG_4410.JPGA beautiful white chapel sits on the top of a hill in the middle of what is called Angel Fire, N.M. David Westphall began construction on this chapel in honor of his son who was killed in Vietnam and in honor of all veterans and their sacrifice for their country. The view is magnificent, and a deep sense of heroism and pride radiated through the wind that tore at us as we explored the site.

A now inactive helicopter stands amid the flowers and trees as a commanding reminder of the reality of combat. In addition to the chapel, which is never locked so that anyone who ever needs to be still in its reverent walls may come at any time, there is a small museum housing tangible memories from the war: lists of POWs, pictures, medals, flags, books, etc.

One of the curators, an older man, explained to me the history of the memorial and the Westphall family. He and I talked for a long time, him telling me of the coincidences and details that brought the memorial together. You can find more information here.

Before leaving I said to the curator, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“I’m Tom,” he said, shaking my hand. The coincidence of the name brought a smile to my face. “I’m Lydia. Nice to meet you.”

Full moon hike

IMG_4452.JPGSeveral SMU students joined the Taos community in a hike up to Williams Lake, which is at about 11,000 feet and 2,000 feet below Wheeler Peak, the highest peak in the area. We started about 7:30 p.m. and reached our destination about 9:15.

IMG_4471.JPGIt was a large group and not an easy trek. I was thankful for my new boots as we sloshed through mud and a sea of snow. As daylight trickled away through the trees, I would want to look at the incredible beauty that reigns in those mountains, but a rock met by my unchartered foot generally brought my attention back to the ground. It was AMAZING. I do not think I will ever stop being amazed by how beautiful our earth is.

We made it to the lake! It was an awesome view. And though we turned around to go back before the moon had fully come over the peak, the view of it from along the trail was one of the most majestic things I have ever seen.

Flashlight on the snow, I followed the feet in front of me and we arrived safely back down the mountain. I felt like a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, hiking at night through dangerous terrain.

It was a moonlit adventure for my epic heart.

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