Fr. Peter J. Daly
Go south from
But people come from miles around to this little crossroads town to do something they could do anywhere, but may not have done in years. They come to pray the Stations of the Cross.
The setting is so spectacular you can almost hear the voice of God contemplating His creation and saying, "It is very, very good."
On a high hill where the two roads join, the local Knights of Columbus have constructed a steeply sloping "way of the cross". The view from the path looks out across the valley to the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains. The desert air is clear. The peaks of the mountains are colorful, snow capped even in summer, blue by day and blood red at sunset.
A steep path begins at the roadside and climbs the hill to an isolated
and breathtaking spot where there is a little adobe chapel of Todos los
But there they are. And the combination of natural beauty and the man made artistic creation has a compelling effect.
People come from all over the
My stop there on my vacation did what a vacation should do. It was true "recreation." Making me anew and renewing me in the faith.
I thought it would be just to have a quick look and then back in the car. But at the first station I was intrigued. A curious Pilate, leaned in to take testimony from an agitated high priest, while a resigned Jesus looked on. I was hooked. I reached out to touch Jesus. There were no signs saying stop. Only the sound of the wind. Solitude. Contemplation.
A tourist visit became prayer. I moved on up the mountain, past the fallen
Jesus, past Simon of Cyrene, past a kindly Veronica, and past the distraught
and hysterical women of
Of all the Catholic devotions, I think the stations of the cross are my favorite. They literally stand at the cross, the crux, of the faith. The events that mark Jesus as not just another teacher or guru or spiritual leader, but as the divine presence entered into the created order.
When I came down the hill from the
stations a family from
The father of the family, an evangelical Christian, asked me a little defensively, "Is this a Catholic thing?" "Yes," I said, "it is an experience for everybody."
I got in my car strangely renewed. It was the highlight of my summer vacation. A solitary walk on a hillside. A way of the cross at the crossroads. A combination of human and divine creativity that does what good prayer should always do, lift the heart and mind, body and soul, into the presence of God.
A town that can do that is worth a little detour off the Interstate.