We are well on the way of our 16-day Pilgrimage of Hope. After four months of planning, our amazing team meeting every other week, we thought we had it all figured out. Well friends, the Holy Spirit always does what She does, and takes us into unexpected places.
During this pilgrimage we have deepened friendships, we have prayed the rosary as we’ve walked, we’ve told stories about how we found ourselves to be in this particular place at this particular time, we’ve laughed and sang and danced as a way to keep our spirits up on long stretches of roadways.
What we didn’t expect was the hospitality we’ve received. All of it has been extraordinary, but there have been special moments that we couldn’t have planned for. When we arrived in Chowchilla, the Ramos family from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, welcomed us into their home. Reuben shared with us that when the priest announced we were coming through town and needed places to sleep, he and his wife decided immediately to host us…despite having moved into their house only the week before (and still unpacking boxes).
What we didn’t expect was that in Livingston at Our Redeemer Lutheran, two of our dinner companions would tell us their stories of crossing the border as children. Now in their 40s, they have yet to return to Mexico…they left brothers and parents and other family behind. With tears in her eyes, Flor shared that her brothers think she has forgotten them because it’s been over 30 years since she’s seen them.
What we didn’t expect was being ask to pray with workers in fields, or saying the rosary with a host family, or receiving blessings from clergy as we depart in the mornings. What we didn’t expect was that we would make new friends along this pilgrimage that would renew our passion for this ministry.
We have said at every stop “we walk because they walk” and this totally true. We are following in the footsteps of those who have walked this valley seeking a better life for their families, and there will be those who will walk after us. My prayer is that their journey is made a little easier by friends met along the way, by prayers and blessings freely offered, and by the radical hospitality and welcome that we are all called to share.
We make the road by walking,