Silence and our San Luis Pilgrimage
There was anticipation as we all gathered in St Thomas Episcopal Church in Alamosa! We had never taken this kind of step before – a Pilgrimage to San Luis to walk the Stations of the Cross in this sacred area of Colorado. We weren’t really sure what all would take place, but we were ready for what God had for us.
I had recently been feeling a bit of depletion in both my spiritual and physical life. In reading Scripture, I always found that Jesus frequently put his schedule on pause to restore and rejuvenate his spirit and soul. This is where I was, and I think all of us, as we sat around the tables at St Thomas.
After sharing around the circle of pilgrims, we seemed to all have a common theme – we wanted to glean from a pilgrimage/retreat experience what God had in store for us in restoration. Christian George writes in his book, Sacred Travels: Recovering the Ancient Practice of Pilgrimage, “Pilgrimage is a spiritual practice that reminds us of our sacred purpose – to grow closer to God.” I believe that is where we were, and we were about to take steps to grow closer to God.
Walking the beautiful and mystical almost life-size statues that Huberto Meastas had created, it didn’t take long for us to begin feeling God was talking to us through this experience. Our conversations grew quiet as we climbed the hill to the final stations that were located on top by the chapel. In the silence of our walks, God was drawing us into conversations that we had not noticed before. This journey was incredible.
Our final gathering at lunch 2 days later reflected this journey together. The responses around the table were ones of blessing, learning, hearing, inner challenge and change, and of fellowship with other pilgrims. Once you have taken this step to deliberately invest in a pilgrimage, you are not the same. God uses this kind of experience to draw you closer to God.
We also had the great privilege of meeting with 2 students who took us on a walk around San Luis – the oldest city in Colorado. We learned a lot from them about San Luis, and the surrounding area, as well as the sacredness of the land. This helped us in knowing why this area was chosen for the Stations.
I, as well as the rest of the group, went away refreshed and renewed to listen more intently and consistently to God speaking to me in my everyday walk of life.
This fall Spiritual Direction Colorado is venturing into new territory by offering a pilgrimage to visit the Stations of the Cross in San Luis, Colorado. What is a pilgrimage? Phil Cousineau in his book The Art of Pilgrimage says, “To people the world over, pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, an act of devotion to find a source of healing, or even to perform a penance. Always, it is a journey of risk and renewal. For a journey without challenge has no meaning; one without purpose has no soul.”
What will we find in San Luis and Southern Colorado? San Luis is the oldest town in Colorado and is predominately Hispanic, with strong ties to Spain’s religious, cultural, and artistic traditions. The adobe architecture and layout of the town are influenced by these historical and cultures traditions that shaped early communities of Southern Colorado.
We will also find The Stations of the Cross Shrine in San Luis built by the Sangre de Cristo Parish who wanted a place where members of all faiths could find consolation and peace in their lives. If you have ever been to Southern Colorado you know spiritual traditions have deep roots. The first settled of this area brought with them Spanish and Mexican traditions of communal ownership of land and water, a strong allegiance to their language and customs, and intense religious faith.
For a few days we will be immersed in this Spanish/Mexican influence as we learn about the culture, visit the workshop of the sculptor, and immerse ourselves in The Stations of the Cross. This will be a quieter, simpler way of being as we journey to this town that closes its shop doors and rolls up its sidewalks early in the evening.
How will our focus deepen? How will our attention to the path be altered? How will our journey be transformed from a most ordinary journey into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage? Each of us who journey to this most sacred spot will come away with different answers, with a different focus, with a different newness of spirit. The most common greetings on Spain’s Camino de Santiago is “Buen Camino” (Good Way/Road). I wish those taking this journey “Buen Camino!”