Sometimes there’s nothing like a great hike to clear one’s head from too much worry and clutter.

Last Wednesday morning, I went hiking with my good friend Rebecca Wurzburger up Santa Fe’s nearby Atalaya Trail, which is quietly beautiful and serene at sunup.

Rebecca showed me an old ponderosa pine she loves that survived and flourished despite a long scar from a lightning strike.

While admiring that pine and its enduring resilience, I found myself asking how long will the healing of our society and economy take, and will there always be a visible scar on our psyches and country.

A scar is defined as “a mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn or sore has not healed completely and fibrous connective tissue has developed.”

It seems quite probable that we are now scarred for life, a wound that will be with us for decades as businesses close and people probably continue to be more cautious and nervous around others, now that social distancing and face masks diminish who we are as individuals.

Will we hug old friends with the same unreserved affection and love we hope to express through physical contact?

It will be better if our collective consciousness as Americans prevails so we can overcome this common shared tragedy that has befallen the nation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has scarred nearly all of humanity, in different ways, both internal and external. Many of us carry hidden scars that are not necessarily COVID-related but definitely COVID enhanced by stress and fear.

One of the hardest things I have ever done was deciding who would and who would not initially return to the Inn on the Alameda as employees, and what will become of the 30 years of memories I have shared with many of them.

What is one to do with those memories and feelings?

I thought of the lowly oyster, living a life at the bottom of the sea happily filtering anything passing by. And then when it inadvertently sucks in a grain of sand — irritating like a fond but sad memory — the oyster begins to create a smooth and beautiful pearl to ease its pain and suffering, hopefully “forgetting” the rawness and discomfort of the day the grain of sand arrived.

And that is what I am going to do — take the profound sadness of these times of drastic budgetary business decisions and look back fondly to all the good experiences and friendships we developed together at the inn.

These employees took our brand-new brick and mortar building, architecturally exemplary, but devoid of character, warmth, and personality, and made it the Inn on the Alameda. These were the magical elements so generously and unselfishly shared and created by their dedication to the culture of care they developed for the inn.

Who could not possibly relish every memory borne from such dedication and love?

Joe Schepps is the president and co-owner of the Inn on the Alameda and has lived in New Mexico for 50 years.

(3) comments

John Smallwood

Thanks for these thoughtful remarks during what is a difficult time shared by just about every employer in Santa Fe. Better times ahead.

Stefanie Beninato

Is Joe Schepps a regular columnist? Otherwise I would suggest getting some takes from other hotel owners. He has now appeared in these columns at least 3 times in the past five months.

Elizabeth Pettus

Yes, we are all looking forward to the time beyond when healing brings growth. Thank you for the hopeful message!

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