It's Easter weekend. Good Friday. Beltane. Spring. Whatever you call it or celebrate it.
It’s cold and windy here today. The chill has returned, perhaps for one last time. Good Friday is just hours away, and pilgrims will start their "walk” to Chimayo, a small town 34 miles North of Santa Fe, NM.
No one is really sure when this Catholic tradition of walking to Chimayo on Good Friday started. Many faiths have this concept of walking to symbolize a deeper internal journey towards self-reflection and the Divine. For over 200 years, hundreds and hundreds of people from all over have walked at this time of year with faith and determination. It is said it is the largest ritual pilgrimage in the United States.
For decades I’ve witnessed the Chimayo walkers (as we know them here in the state), walk mile after mile, some in deep contemplation, some chatting the whole way, some young, some old, some enthusiastic and tired, some even being pushed in their wheelchairs. It really is a sight to behold. This walk means many things to many folks. Some do it with hope. Some with gratitude. Some with prayers. Some with deep sorrows. Some for play. Most with astounding grit and determination. Most of them are heroes in my mind... walking mile after mile past shortcomings, difficulties, exhaustion, pain and challenges... a victory of the spirit, if you will, over the earthly realm of sore legs, blisters, heat stroke and dehydration.
It is truly humbling and inspiring for me to witness this event year after year. A walk of devotion. I'll be curious to see how many pilgrims I see on the road this year. For years I've seen the numbers grow and dwindle. For years I've wondered what inspires a person to dedicate a day(s) to walk in prayer, devotion and a whole lot of determination. Some folks will walk up to 16-20 hours towards that small Santuario nestled in the sleepy village of Chimayo, where reportedly healing miracles occur and where prayers are answered. A pilgrimage for the soul.
.I’ve always been curious about what motivates someone to do a walk of this magnitude. I often think, what would it take for me to commit to walk for long hours like that? Hmmm….
Food for thought: If there were no restrictions on your time, energy, money, health, etc, etc, would you consider doing a walking pilgrimage? How long would you be willing to walk? Fort what reason/intention/healing/prayer/curiosity?
Here's a most obvious one: Camino de Compostela… many days, many trials, many blisters, many tears, many new friendships, many reckon-ins. This has appealed to me for years.
There are countless more walks around the earth of this kind, less known walking routes, mountain trails, wood hikes, desert caminos… where pilgrims can truly merge with the act of walking, and surrender to the fullness of the experience of walking.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, if you care to share. Form my little corner of the earth to yours, I send you warm greetings from this magical and mysterious land of high deserts and ritual pilgrimages.
Be safe. Be kind. Go for a walk. Celebrate the season with gratitude, humility and joy.