Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

Good Friday Pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó

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Santuario de Chimayó

Santuario de Chimayó

Spring has many traditions in northern New Mexico, with the annual pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó as one of the deepest held. Every year, thousands of people walk to the Santuario on Good Friday. People walk to give thanks, with specific prayers, to honor loved ones who have passed, to honor their faith, and a myriad of other reasons centering on gratitude. Please take the time to read the history of the Santuario here. “It is a story that spans over one thousand years and three contents.” It is a story that in so many ways conveys the essence of our history and dynamics in northern New Mexico.

Noé and Dawn, 5:00 am

Noé and Dawn, 5:00 am

Noé and I walked the pilgrimage two years ago. Come with us on our journey. We walked to give thanks for Mom’s recovery from breast cancer. It had been five years since her diagnosis. What is wild is the call we received several miles into our walk…

Here we are at 5:00 am Good Friday, as our friend, Rachel, came to take us to where the walk with begin 22 miles from the Santuario. In honor of Mom’s journey, we made shirts with her photo, “Survivor,” and “Que mujerota.”  The closest translation to “Que mujerota,” falls in line with “What a WOMAN!” – and then expand that exponentially. Noé has been saying this about Mom ever since he met her.

Mom knew we were going to walk in gratitude with with prayers for her continued health. She didn’t tell us about what she had happening that day…

Rachel dropped us off near the opera in Santa Fe and we began our walk.

6:00 am

We are some of the very few walkers on the road.

Noé, 6 am

Noé, 6 am

Santuario walkers

Santuario walkers

Much of the walk follows the historic Camino Real.

El Camino Real

El Camino Real

Roadside art.

Roadside art.

People leave water, fruit, and candy for the walkers.

Water, fruit, and candy

Water, fruit, and candy

Antiques, art, furniture, and descanso.

Antiques, art, furniture, and descanso.

The santuario walkers, sports bar, and casino…

Pilgrimage walkers and Sports Bar

Pilgrimage walkers and Sports Bar

Noé walks under canopy of trees.

Noé walks under canopy of trees.

Descansos, “places of rest” to honor loved ones who have passed, usually on that spot, line the road.

Descansos

Descansos

RIP

Riverbed, Nambé

Riverbed, Nambé

Mountains and arroyo.

Mountains and arroyo.

Me, Nambé

Me, Nambé

We receive a phone call from Mom. “I just had my five year check up and all looks good!” Mom had been so nervous going into the checkup, that only my dad knew it was happening that day. I had no idea. “The five-year anniversary check up is a huge deal,” she said. “I’m good. Start praying for someone else!” The coming together of our walking the pilgrimage for her health, as we received that phone call left us both speechless.

Peacock

Peacock

Lilacs are some of my favorite flowers, as they remind me of our lilac bushes on the Cascabel ranch of my childhood. Lilacs thrive in northern New Mexico. They had just bloomed. I picked a flower and carried for miles, lifting to smell the fragrance as we walked.

Lilacs

Lilacs

We start to see more walkers now.

More walkers.

More walkers.

Santuario walkers.

Santuario walkers.

Men on horseback.

Sheriff’s Posse for safety.

Trail of walkers.

Trail of walkers.

Trail of walkers.

Descanso

Descanso

Closer to Chimayó.

Closer to Chimayó.

Arroyo

Arroyo

A raven watches.

A raven watches.

Families join.

Families join.

Trucks with art and fruit appear.

Trucks with art and fruit appear.

Some carry crosses.

Some carry crosses.

The descent into Chimayó.

Descent into Chimayó.

Descent into Chimayó.

We arrive to El Santuario.

Santuario de Chimayó.

Santuario de Chimayó.

Candles and rosaries.

Candles and rosaries.

Pilgrims in prayer.

Pilgrims in prayer.

Chimayó

Chimayó

Nuestra Señora

Nuestra Señora

Santuario and stream.

Santuario and stream.

22 miles later

22 miles later

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

Now, if we could only stand up again, after sitting! Our legs and feet cramped and we literally climbed the walking stick to get vertical again, any sense of pride completely and utterly gone.

22 miles and several hours after Rachel had dropped us off that morning, Rachel came to retrieve us. She took us back to her house and poured us into her hot tub with glasses of red wine. A new tradition for the pilgrimage.

Noé and Rachel

Noé and Rachel

As I finish writing this, the moon shines bright in the darkness outside. I know there are walkers already on the trail out there now. Our friend, Herman, who is a tribal and spiritual leader for Cochiti Pueblo started walking yesterday. He walks from his home in Cochiti to the Santuario 65 miles away. It usually takes him 3 or 4 days. I gained a whole new understanding and respect for this after our own walk, as neither Noé and I could move the next day, much less walk another 20 miles.

Herman’s annual dedication to the walk expresses so much of our dynamics in northern New Mexico. He is a tribal and spiritual leader of his Pueblo and spends many hours each week praying in the traditional kiva. He also walks each spring to the Catholic Santuario. Before there was a church in this space in Chimayó, there was a sacred space for the previous thousands of years. It is said that the dirt here can bring miracles and healing. The intertwining of traditions and beliefs of cultures and history infuses all in northern New Mexico.

We will walk again today, not 22 miles this time, probably only about five. The kids join us this time. Yesterday was my birthday and this is what I asked from them as a gift. Yes, I shamelessly slapped that card down on the table. They are as excited about this as they usually are about church. A dear friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon the sun will be up and we will join the walkers in gratitude and prayer for healing.

Yesterday was my 45th birthday and my birthday present to myself  that morning was to write in my journal by candlelight, the full moon bright in the window. I wrote of my gratitude for the many blessings I celebrate on my 45th birthday. A student asked me yesterday what I wanted for the future, and I realized, “To expand on the present. To love, to parent, to write, to teach, to give thanks for the nest of family and dear friends.” Blessings all. All the more cherished for the birthdays in other chapters of life. It is a time of deep gratitude.

My journal - Blessings on my 45th

My journal – Blessings on my 45th

It’s been seven years now since Mom’s diagnosis and she thrives. Here she and Noé walk the ecumenical procession around the plaza for Palm Sunday. Yes, a time of deep gratitude.

Mom and Noé, Palm Sunday procession around the Plaza

Mom and Noé, Palm Sunday procession around the Plaza

* * *

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Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

43 thoughts on “Good Friday Pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó

  1. Pingback: A Cascabel Birthday | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  2. Thank you for this touching diary of the pilgrimage to the Santuario. I grew up in the area and every Good Friday someone in my family has walked the 13.6 miles from our home. As I was reading this and scrolled down, not only was I emotionally moved but I was pleasantly surprised to see the photo of the blue cross, which is in honor of my brother’s passing. Thank you.

    • Viola, thank you so much for taking the time to write and connect. To know the blue cross honors your brother brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so very much for the gift of knowing this. I will think of you, your family, and your brother as we walk on Good Friday, this time in honor of a dear friend who passed. Deepest gratitude.

  3. Hi Dawn: I am such a crybaby. These pictures were beautiful. Thank you very much for sharing. I don’t go on the walk because we celebrate here in Arroyo Hondo and Seco at the old Morada with our own Hermanos who do an amazing presentation. We start since Thursday with the washing of the feet, good Friday mass where La Enquentra, where Christ and his mother meet and then the stations of the cross, dinner and they take down the Lord from the cross to his resting place and we pray a rosary for him. It continues through Easter Sunday but Friday is the day I love the best. My heart get broken, my tears are uncontrollable but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We are not allowed to take pictures because the celebration is sacred and only a small portion is open to the public, with the promise of no sketching, taking pictures or cell phones, videos etc. Hope your holiday was great, it looks like from the pictures. My Best, Virginia

    • Virginia, how wonderful that you celebrate in Arroyo Hondo and Seco at the old Morada! Thank you so much for including the details of what each day holds, beginning with the washing of the feet, and then good Friday Mass, and onward. What days full of ritual and meaning! Thank you so very much sharing this sacred time with me. What a blessing! Such gratitude! Dawn

  4. Excellent story. I’ve been there twice, by car. A very special spot.

    • Happy Birthday, belatedly, and best wishes for a year ahead that expands on the present joys and blessings and adds new ones along the way. I love reading about you walk to Chimayo two years ago. The photos and your comments made that journey come alive for me as I experienced the walk vicariously. My question is how long did it take you to walk two years ago and then this year? Our friend at Tia Sophia’s told me it took him 6 1/2 hours to walk from the Santa Fe Opera.

      • Jane, thanks so much for the birthday wishes. We had a lovely day at Wynn’s volleyball game. So good to see you at church and connect. I do think it took us 8 hours, including stopping for lunch under a tree. I love what you wrote here, “…a year ahead that expands on the present joys and blessings…” How gorgeous! Thank you, thank you.

    • Ashley, I love that drive by car, too. There really is something sacred about that Place.

  5. Superb story, Dawn. Your words and pics convey adventure and faith just like many pilgrims do in our American continent. I liked the water, fruit and candies people leave for walkers. In many parts of México local people do the same with typical food. By the way, do you know the meaning of Chimayó? It’d be interesting to know it. A big hug to you Dawn, and keep sharing your writing and life moments.
    Miguel

    • Miguel, the fruit, candy, and water left along the way for walkers has really stayed with me, as well. You know, I don’t k now the meaning of Chimayó or where the name comes from. The site has been a sacred spot for thousands of years, long before the Spanish arrived. I’ll see if I can find out the history of the name and let you know. Big hugs to you!! Dawn

      • Dawn and Miguel, I found the meaning of Chimayo from two sources, both saying about the some thing; “Good obsidian.” From Tewa, a Tanoan language, through Spanish, from an online names definitions and from Rancho de Chimayo site, The name Chimayó itself is from the Tewá Indian language meaning superior red flaking stone.

        • Thank you so much Dan. It’s always interesting to know about roots and origins. Best wishes wherever you are. Greets!

      • Dan and Miguel, thanks so much for bringing this into our conversation and for looking this up! So grateful to know this comes from the Tewa language and means superior red flaking stone. I will have new eyes for this the next walk or visit to Chimayó. Many thanks and hugs to you both! Dawn

  6. This gave me goosebumps. I read it 2 years ago when you first posted this and it gave me goosebumps then also. Beautiful with so much loving depth in your words. I must add – that pic. of Noe with his feet dangling above the water is priceless. 😀

    • Lindy, I’m so gad the energy of this day and time and the greater life journey of our family came through. This one was important to me. I love that pic of Noé with his feet in the water, too. Oh, were we hurting! 🙂

  7. Happy, Happy Birthday!! I hope your day was as wonderful as you! Much love to you!

  8. Thank you Dawn for reposting this pilgrimage! I walked it with you then and again this morning and I am grateful for the graces I felt doing that! It’s a quiet Holy Week at my house so I am taking advantage of time to listen and look and be with God In All Things.

    • Mary Kay, I am so grateful to know you enjoyed this again. I found I experienced so much anew when I read again for the first time in two years, too. I hope you had a lovely, peaceful Easter weekend with God In All Things. With love, Dawn

  9. Thanks for reposting Dawn, this piece is a treasure to me because while looking for articles about the Chimayo Pilgrimage, I found Dewdrops and now it brightens my morning whenever I find a new post in my Inbox. Thinking about Chimayo takes me to another place and I come back to this installment of Dewdrops often to feast on the photos. A Blessed Good Friday to all. Love, Dan

    • Dan, oh, I am so grateful to know this! I try not to re-blog hardly anything, but the energy of the pilgrimage fills today and the beauty and power for the pilgrimage comes through in the photos, I think. This is wild…I was just talking with Noé about our conversation about Pecos. I said I didn’t even know how you and I had originally connected. Now, I know! I love this. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and connect. Love, Dawn

  10. Happy Belated Birthday, Dawn! I read your blog in awe. We’ve visited The Sanctuary before, but I didn’t know about the pilgrimage. What a beautiful thing to participate in. I cannot imagine making it the whole way there. 🙂

    • Hi, Bobbi and thank you for the birthday wishes! 🙂 Oh, it was such an amazing experience to walk this. We love it. We were also amazed at how SORE we were, considering we’re both runners. Thank goodness Noé brought his walking stick to hold us upright! Hugs to you.

  11. Reblogged this on Dawn Wink: Dewdrops and commented:

    Good Friday in northern New Mexico means walking the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayó.

  12. A wonderful word journey to go along with your photo journey. May I use the top photo on the blog that feature the church and/or one that has pilgrims on the road for use by Ghost Ranch?

    • Hi, Anna Maria—Of course you may use. Let the beauty of Chimayó expand! Please just credit me with the photo. I’d love to see the blog when you’re done. Ghost Ranch is so spectacular and such a special place.

  13. Pingback: One Year of Dewdrops | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  14. Que peregrinaje tan hermoso! Pensandolos muchisimo.

  15. Another wonderful read. I enjoy hearing about your family traditions, new and old. Especially happy to hear your mom has been cancer-free for so long.

  16. Such a beautiful journey you are on Dawn! I am so happy for you and your wonderful family.
    You are so creative, intelligent, and courageous.
    Love, Sharon

  17. Happy Birthday
    and
    Happy Easter to you and your family!

  18. Beautiful, Dawn!

  19. I really enjoyed this, I felt I , too, made the trip….what a wonderful & meaningful tradition! Thanks for sharing!!! Love U, Micki

  20. Happy Birthday! I hope you can rest this weekend! Blessings! abound…. hugs, Latifa

  21. And, once again, you impress and amaze me with your beautiful writing. I love reading everything you write, and I love you and your wonderful family.

  22. What a beautiful story of renewal and commitment, Dawn. I have a picture of Chimayo that I took many years ago when Steve and I visited there. The picture hangs near my dining table as a reminder of miracles and the gratitude I have for them. (I also have some of the special dirt). 🙂 How wonderful that you and Noe could do this special walk together. And, I am so happy to hear your mom is a five year survivor!!

    I hope your birthday was everything you wanted it to be. I’m glad your children will be walking with you today. Someday when they are adults, they will tell the story of how they walked to a magical sanctuary in the hills of a magical land. They may think this is normal for most people, but when they are older they will realize how special this opportunity is. My children did their first, and only, sweat lodge with me on Thanksgiving night one year when I visited Santa Fe, when they were teenagers. They now tell about that time in a fond way. It wasn’t so wonderful at the time….. 🙂 (for me either….)

    I hope your weather is nice for the walk!!

    Love,
    Kenna

    • Dear Kenna,

      I love the thought of the photo of Chimayó in your living room, as a reminder of miracles and gratitude. I also love that your kids now remember their time in a sweat lodge with you fondly—now that they’re adults. I can only hope our kids will feel the same one day. Right now, there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm. I may have to threaten them into gratitude…can’t imagine what that looks like on the karma level! Wyatt asked if he could just run it, and I said the whole point was for us to do it together as a family. “Oh….” 🙂

      We do have glorious weather this morning. I so look forward to being out there.

      Much love to you,
      Dawn

  23. Hi dawn..happy easter. BTW, am loving laura’s followup course. Bill

    “When you are a long way from home, for a long time, you are home…wherever you are.”

  24. Happiest of Birthdays, Dawn! I hope your “short” walk to Chimayo today with the kids was/is full of blessings and joy. Thank you for taking us along on your walk with Noe two years ago, and for sharing the phone call from your Mom. A miracle of the pilgrimage, and grace for a life lived in love. Mil gracias for simply being you, here, in this life.

    • Thank you, dear Susan! You will be with us in spirit, what a gift to share this journey – for the pilgrimage and in life. I so look forward to walking with you and Denise in your own pilgrimages today, as well. A true gift. Much love.

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