This past week, we went camping at Chaco Canyon National Park in northwest New Mexico. It is a very remote spot: the nearest bank is 80 miles away. There are no services, gas, food, or lodging, anywhere near the national park. We were completely off the grid, carrying our own water as the campground has non-potable water (the Visitor’s Center one and a half miles away has potable water), and food as well as everything we needed to camp for two nights in early November.

We arrived the day before the full moon. Getting up in the middle of the night the next night to head to the bathroom was magical: absolute quiet, towering canyon walls on three sides of the campground, and a full moon that was so bright, we didn’t need a flashlight. We also stumbled into the final ranger program for the year that allowed us to be in the most famous ruin, Pueblo Bonito, after dark, hearing stories and learning about the site and the stars. What a gift!

In this liminal space that we continue to live in, it was good to be in a mysterious site like Chaco Canyon. No one really knows why Chaco was built. It is believed that is was a place of ceremony, with fewer rather than more people living in it, that it was more like the Vatican than Rome itself. Yet, many roads radiated out of Chaco to settlements near and far that were permanent living places. As the ranger said, scholars know some of the answers to the “what” questions but few to no answers for the “why” questions.

Among other things to see, Chaco has some amazing stone work. They built three-story (maybe higher) buildings out of stone and used mere pebbles for much of the work! The belief is that it was for the sheer aesthetic of it. The time it must have taken to build on that scale with those tiny rocks in hard to imagine. It would be like building a three story building today and using Lego-sized blocks for much of the walls.

And then, everyone left. Again, no one knows why. They literally walked away as they did from Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins, and so many other places that dot the Four Corners region of the United States. I remember being at he Kennecott mine townsite in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park area of Alaska. When the copper mine played out and the last train came to take the rest of the workers and their families away for good, many people walked out of their homes leaving the dishes on the table, the pictures on the walls, and the furniture in the rooms. They only took what they could carry in bags on the train with them.

In this liminal space, I am being asked to walk away from things as well. I sense it is so that I can move toward something else that has not yet been revealed. I don’t think I am being asked to literally walk out of this old house and leave the dishes on the table but I do think I am being asked to leave behind old certainties and thought-patterns. I don’t think I am to actually leave the pictures on the wall behind but I do think I am being invited to leave behind the picture I had of how my future would look.

I find Chaco Canyon both thrilling and unnerving: a great civilization, a great center of diverse culture and activity completely abandoned to the ravages of time and nature. I thrill to touch the walls made by such brilliant craftsmen over about a 300-year time period and wonder how they could simply walk away from these monuments to human creativity and religious practice.

It makes me wonder if I could let go of enough of my daily life as it is now to answer a call to something completely new, if and when it comes.