Each year on Good Friday about 30,000 people make the pilgrimage to Chimayo, a small historic mountain village about an hour north of Santa Fe, NM. They come for a variety of reasons and they make their trip on foot. These pilgrims converge on a tiny church in the village and pay their respects, ask for healing or give thanks. Many come away with small bags or bottle filled with holy dirt they collect from a sacred spot within the church. The area is littered with abandoned braces, canes, walkers, orthopedic shoes. There are bouquets of flowers left as offerings and icons of saints, crosses made of every imaginable material.
I did not walk to Chimayo. Instead, a friend and I set up a table and distributed water to the pilgrims as they passed by us on their long walk to Chimayo. Many walked over 100 miles, others started closer to Chimayo and logged only 10 or 20 miles. There were old people and there were babies and small children, people on horseback and others walking with the aid of companions supporting them. A wandering troubadour stopped and serenaded us for a while. Many began their walk at midnight and trekked through the dark night to arrive at dawn. Others walked through the heat of the day. Some were pious, some filled with laughter.
It is gratifying to see these pilgrims. As they pass or stop to sip water, they thank us for being there. But I find myself thanking them, for showing me their faith, for living their faith.
Soon, I will be walking my own pilgrimage, a different pilgrimage - the 500 mile walk to Santiago de Compostella. But on this Good Friday, I was happy to simply be a spectator. I was happy to simply offer a cool drink to those who were on a mission.
Life is good...