By Melanie Gould, C'16 & former development intern
In Spring of 2015, I was a part of the Chimayo Pilgrimage over spring break. It was one of the most transformative experiences of my time in college. Each day, we would wake up with the sunrise, share morning masses with locals throughout New Mexico, and walk about 15 miles through some of the most amazing scenery in the country. We were exposed to the wide range of ways people may live out their faith - through the parishioners and Knights of Columbus we met along our way, to the Sisters of Charity we shared Adoration with, to the missionaries that we worked alongside, to the consecrated laywomen that journeyed with us. It was beautiful to be a part of, but also wonderful to be given this time to reflect on how we wanted to live out our faith as well.
When you think about it, 75 miles will take less than two hours to drive, whereas walking that distance takes many days. But that is the point of a pilgrimage - you get to take time for yourself that is not about where you're headed, but about the journey itself. Often we move too fast in our daily lives, doing everything almost on autopilot; but pilgrimages are all about intention. By moving slower, you see more, reflect more, and act with more purpose. We began our days by choosing quotes at random that our trip leader had prepared. We could contemplate those quotes in silence, converse with others on our trip, or pray as a group as we walked. It was a time for reflection and connection, and for many on our trip, discernment.
The pilgrimage was as much a time of learning about myself as it was understanding how God reveals Himself to us through people and nature. For instance, on the final day of our trip, we began our journey down into a breathtaking valley. As the sun rose, there was a rainbow across the cloudless blue sky. It was a perfect beginning to the day where we would reach Chimayo Sanctuary. Connecting with God's creation in this way was profound. It gave me the opportunity to bring myself closer to Him, but it also helped me recognize how much it is taken for granted.