This much I know about pilgrimage: it takes me a few days to "get" into it. Today, I got into pilgrimage. It was no longer a physical challenge that would tear at limb and lungs. We woke up late (4:30), getting a nice leisurely breakfast, without the usual rush because we would be walking 14 miles compared to days of 20-23 miles, which frankly are killers when they come all in-a-row.
The people who bused us last night from Sipapu returned and bused us back to Sipapu. From there it was a leisurely walk to Placita, where we stopped at a beautiful chapel, where Gabriel's (a former leader) parents worship. The chapel structure was mud. What was unique was the floor was mud as well, and not pine as was the case with other chapel floors. These structures keep cool in the hot dry heat of NM. The Santos in this church were beautiful. The corpus in this church was carved by Gabriel's dad who is in his 90s and is a Hermanos/Penitentes.
We then walked to the Morada, which has the customary figure of Jesus (life size) dragging a cross. This is the sign of a Morada. Like all other Moradas, they sang songs and spoke primarily in Spanish. The Hermanos are a 400 y.o. phenomena that started in Spain. It is a federation of lay brothers (no sisters) who, again, are not divorced and not out and gay. The do not evangelize: one has to ask to be a Hermanos (or Penitentes). Usually, sons ask the fathers to be a Hermanos. There job is to support the Catholic communities wherever they are planted. They too have their crosses and banners, come out and sing and kiss our gia. If there is a cross outside the Morada, we pass by and touch or kiss it (I touch).
We climbed up a small hill through the back roads toward Penasco, entering the high school grounds where we slept last night by the back. Lunch was sandwiches and delicious desserts. Neither weight gained or loss.
But that was not the end: we walked to Chamisal today: another small chapel in a small rural town. 3 more miles from Penasco.
By the time we returned to Penasco (picked up by cars and vans), we were joined by another men's group. They joined us for worship tonight at Mass with a priest from Nigeria who loves to preach. He enjoys singing his way into the homily (parishioners know it will be good when he sings). Though I found him self centered, others enjoyed his fiery oratory, ala Baptist preaching. While the focus the other day was on himself (as was today), he finally talked about the kinship of Mary and Elizabeth, and the children within their womb. The music from our group has been 2 guitars and an acorrdian. Tonight we were joined by another pilgrimage group, in which they had a guitar from a mariachi band and knew how to sing on key. It was grand.
Dinner was a love fest among pilgrims and the families who keep visiting. This is part of the fun: the camraderie we experience after walking on several pilgrimages.
Tonight I got a massage: James (Brandon's dad) and Charlie Gallegos used cocoa butter to massage calves and shins...ah!
And bananas were plentiful.
A good day.
p.s., this is the chapel in Chamisal!