Living kinder, gentler, and better produces the greatest possibility of a finish one can feel good about.
Natural Burial New Mexico has its origins in the promotion of a kinder, gentler, and better life. We feel that concept should be extended to include all of life, all the way through to the ending.
The seminars and speaking engagements that we do are all about living well in spite of the disappointments, failures, illnesses, tragedies, unexpected events, discomfort regarding mortality, and uncertainties about the future.
We welcome the common ground within science, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and the developments in the exploration of consciousness.
We believe in the possibility of better based on:
Opening La Puerta del Cielo
Natural Jewish Burial: A Jewish woman died in Albuquerque last week. She was not just anyone; she was a very special person with whom Abq Jew became acquainted, alas, only after her death.
When a Jew dies in Albuquerque, his or her remains are usually delivered to a local funeral home, where those remains are prepared for burial.
The funeral home usually works with a local rabbi to schedule a funeral service, and often (not always) calls in the Chevre Kaddisha (Jewish Burial Society) to wash, purify, and dress the deceased, and place him or her in a kosher casket.
The deceased is then usually transported to a local cemetery, where the funeral service is performed and the deceased is buried.
All of this is done with dignity and respect.
And all of this (except, of course, the services of the Chevre Kaddisha) costs money.
The family of the special person whom Abq Jew met last week did not have enough money to follow the "usual" procedure.
In such a case, what is the responsibility of the Albuquerque Jewish community? And how does the Albuquerque Jewish community fulfill that responsibility?
Respectful treatment and burial of the dead
is one of the greatest mitzvot.
When the family of the deceased cannot perform this mitzvah for financial reasons, the Albuquerque Jewish community - through the Jewish Federation of New Mexico - steps in.
Through the JFNM's Indigent Burial Fund, the mitzvah of
kavod hamet כּבוד המת (honoring the dead) is fulfilled.
The JFNM's kosher pine caskets are usually procured through Fathers Building Futures, a local organization that helps
ensure parents and families experiencing barriers from incarceration have the best opportunities for stability - emotionally, socially and financially.
This project has been inspired by the courageous men who have, and who will continue to, overcome obstacles in order to succeed as providers for their children and community.
And JFNM's burial plots? While Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque and Vista Verde Memorial Park in Rio Rancho still have some plots available for Jewish burials, there is a new alternative: La Puerta Natural Burial Ground -
a 40-acre private, serene, conservation burial site at the base of the Manzano Mountains. Fully certified by the national Green Burial Council, La Puerta's mission is to ensure low cost, environmentally sound, and respectful burial for all.
La Puerta is located about 15 miles southeast of Belen. That's about an hour's ride from downtown Albuquerque - about half an hour on I-25, a quick swing through Belen, and then onto Highway 47.
Yes, it's a bit of a schlep, but the reward for those visiting La Puerta is blue sky, beautiful mountains, acres upon acres of magnificent open fields ... and trains.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway runs through Belen and then heads southeast, crossing Highway 47 just north of the La Puerta turnoff.
The 40-car, 60-car, 80-car freight trains that move across the tranquil La Puerta horizon - silently and powerfully - only add to the serenity of the place. The trains convey continuity - a feeling that, whatever happens, we will go on.
For the very special lady Abq Jew helped bury last week - well, her family (also very special) said she would have been pleased. Which is all we can ask for.
The JFNM has been proud to assist in the proper Jewish burial of several indigent New Mexicans during the past few months. But -
The Indigent Burial Fund is almost empty.
Can you help the JFNM perform this important mitzvah?
Click here to donate to the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, and please direct a portion of your contribution to the Indigent Burial Fund.
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Some twenty years ago one of my sons gifted me with a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd puppy named Kaci for my birthday. Kaci’s mother, Katie, belonged to my son, and Kaci’s sire was a Red Heeler. Kaci was only six weeks old and a beautiful bouncing ball of fur.
Kaci began her life with me sleeping every night against the top of my head on my pillow. During the day she rode with me in the pickup truck everywhere I went. In warm weather, she loved to ride in the truck bed, running from side to side, with the wind blowing in her face. In bad weather she rode up front in the passenger’s seat, watching the road ahead without moving a muscle and a very serious look on her face. I accused her of not trusting my driving.
Kaci grew up with me at a time in my life when I sorely needed her kind of company. She and I lived in a log cabin on the side of a mountain. Our nearest neighbors were deer, elk, bear, and cougars.
On warm evenings, when the moon came up full, Kaci would lie outside the cabin and watch it slowly rise over Mt. Nebo across the valley. Watching her take it all in made me wonder what she was thinking, and I wished she could tell me.
Kaci has been gone for several years now. I still miss her and have a difficult time talking about her. Conversing with people about La Puerta Natural Burial Ground has given rise to discussions about what to do for animal companions like Kaci. In answer to that question, Natural Burial New Mexico has established a pet cemetery adjacent to La Puerta. All those we love deserve our respectful care in life and in death.
For thousands of years coyote has observed the comings and goings along the arroyos and canyons surrounding La Puerta Natural Burial Ground. He has been one of the most adaptable, cunning, and ubiquitous life forms that inhabit this diverse landscape. He has been man’s closest neighbor, unafraid to help himself to dinner at the expense of the sheep herder or rancher, and vocalizes his assessment of conditions in a very taunting and audacious manner. He has gained status in folklore, with human qualities attributed to his character by one who knows him best, the Native American.
Coyote’s flexible character, comical antics, and ability to survive those who would put an end to his kind has contributed greatly to his unabashed lifestyle amidst all the chaos and controversy around him. He dances to a unique musical expression with infectious laughter that demands an outlet.
To join Coyote in the experience of life in this landscape is to join a long journey through time surrounded by the spirit of all those who were here before and who live here now. The awareness changes us; causes us to see the world differently, and to look not only at the past, but at the present. Looking at the present through that lens forces us to consider the impact of our lives upon those who will join us in the future. It also causes us to look for ways to dialogue with all those along the endless path.
La Puerta Natural Burial Ground is a special place, dedicated to memories, myths, and transformations.
Memories: In 1933, when my father was eighteen years old, he jumped a freight train in central Texas and rode an empty box car to Mountainair, New Mexico to work in the bean harvest. In his free time, he explored the Manzano Mountains, Abo Ruins, and Abo Canyon. I remember the many stories he told me about that time when I was a boy.
Myths: Before any of the ruins were excavated and preserved there were local myths about mournful sounds produced by the winds as they passed over small openings in the buried rooms of the Ancient Ones.
Transformations: The railroad continues west, dropping into Abo Canyon on its way to California. For years this single tack caused a bottle-neck where trains moving through the canyon had to wait on each other to pass. Around 2008 a second track was built through the canyon, transforming the flow of freight moving along the line.
La Puerta lies at the base of the Manzanos where Abo Canyon empties out into the desert. The burial ground is bounded on the north by the railroad tracks and Abo Wash a short distance to the south. It is arguably one of the most peaceful places on earth. And, for me, the one place I feel closest to my father. For those reasons, it is my final resting place. Bury me out on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl, and the wind blows free. Cowboy Ballad, 1910