Soon, I will begin my annual pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo. It’s an approximately 22 mile walk from Santa Fe and I’ve done it for several years, along with many people in Northern New Mexico. It’s an act of faith; many people walk in prayer, some in thanksgiving, some just to see if they can. I walk because it’s a time for me to reflect on the weaknesses of my humanity balanced against the potential strength our spirit provides.
Christ struggled with the same balancing act during his time in Gethsemane. He prayed for his cup of suffering to be taken, but not His will be done, but God’s. In my experience, anguish and suffering are unfortunate parts of human existence – it’s our response to anguish and suffering that reveals our spiritual strength. Plus, there’s no one who can escape the cup of suffering; we must all face our respective cup. I’m reminded of exactly that on my pilgrimage: My body will begin to break down, but my if my spirit prevails, I will reach the little adobe church and pray in thanks that my year has begun again. It’s a lesson I hope and try to apply throughout the year.
As part of the reflection of my weak humanity, I look to Judas. He has become a villain in the Passion of Christ, but to me, he’s an example of our own nature. He sold out Christ for 30 pieces of silver, which led to Christ’s arrest, torture, and crucifixion. Here’s the thing, though: Judas’ betrayal also led to the Resurrection. One would not have happened without the other. Though Judas hung himself as a result of his regret, his example should remind us of what’s at stake when we risk selling out our own divinity. To me, that’s part of Judas’ teaching: We lose our soul when we betray our divine nature. Many “christians” write and preach about humanity’s sinful nature, but they’re simply wrong. Our nature is divine – however, our weaknesses are drawn to external circumstances in which we trade our natural divinity for temporary satiation. Human existence is painful; relief from that pain can only be had in facing our difficulties and somehow accessing our divine nature to overcome them. Yet, we seek quick fixes and ways to “feel” better than ultimately do more to separate us from who we really are.
Anyway, tomorrow afternoon, I will walk to Santuario as I have for several years. I’m not sure what I’ll earn this year, but I have no doubt that whatever it is, it will serve me throughout the rest of the year.