This past weekend (September 13-16) I was honored to participate in the 2nd annual New Mexico Pilgrimage for Unity, a 45 mile ecumenical walking pilgrimage through Northern New Mexico, in which pilgrims from a variety of Christian traditions-both Catholic and Protestant-walk and pray together for Christian Unity.
Last year I was privileged to participate in the pilgrimage as Spiritual Director and provide leadership for worship and prayer throughout the journey (alongside Seth Finch, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in ABQ and David Poole, liturgical musician at large). This year I was blessed to step back and receive the rich blessing of being a simple pilgrim, led in prayer and worship by this year's Spiritual Direction Team (which included Ariel Bondoc, a Roman Catholic musician from the Philippines, Becky Glad, an Evangelical Christian from Texas, and Stephanie Gretchen, a Quaker from Albuquerque.)
Our journey began at Christ in the Desert Monastery. We walked to Ghost Ranch, and then on to Abiquiu, and at last to Chimayo.
On the first day of our pilgrimage, as we started to make our way from Christ in the Desert towards Ghost Ranch, I asked one of my fellow pilgrims, Eugene Corrales (a young Roman Catholic from Abiquiu) to teach me to pray the Hail Mary in Spanish.
I have found it useful, over the past several months, to pray and read devotional material in Spanish. I am only a (very) beginning Spanish student, but I find that by praying in my non-dominant language, I am able to approach God in a different--more simple, childlike, and trusting--way.
With Eugene's help, I prayed the words over and over again...
Dios te salve, María,
llena eres de gracia,
el Seńor es contigo.
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres,
y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros, los pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.
...step by step, mile by mile, the words of the prayer began to grow within me--first into a movement meditation, and then into a song.
By the end of Day 1, the movement meditation had taken shape. By the end of Day 2, the melody had taken shape. By Day 3 the movement and melody carried the prayer--and me along with it--so that my conscious mind no longer had to struggle to find the words, and my feet no longer had to struggle to find their step.
At the end of the third day of walking we reached our destination-El Santuario de Chimayo. To my surprise I was greeted there by a statue of Our Lady, with the opening lines of the Hail Mary inscribed, in Spanish, above her head!
Below you will find an explanation/demonstration that I created of the movement meditation at Ghost Ranch, at the end of our first day of walking.
And below is a video of the movement meditation and song I created (with the help of pilgrim Orlinie Vasquez) during our lunch break at the Chama River on Day 2 of the pilgrimage.
If you are an English speaking Catholic--perhaps praying the Hail Mary in Spanish will deepen or revive your connection to the prayer.
If you are a Spanish speaking Catholic--perhaps praying Dios te salve Maria in movement or song will expand or renew your connection to the prayer.
If you are an English or Spanish speaking Protestant, perhaps the words, or the movements, or the melody of this prayer will allow you to experience anew the power of being carried by the prayer and intercession of Mary, who is not only the mother of Jesus but also our sister in faith.