25 March | The Fourth Wednesday of Lent: The Feast of the Annunciation
The hike up to see the statue of the Virgen d’Orisson (not pictured) took my breath away, literally! At an altitude of 1,095 meters (almost 4,000 feet) both the climb (I live at sea level) and the sight of her had my lungs working overtime. Reflecting upon this site prompted me to ponder the intersection of art and faith: the sculpting and painting processes, the care in correct positioning, the consideration for the multitudes of devoted Marian pilgrims. Surely, this artistic effort was an engineering of the heart.
This sacred moment with the site devoted to Mary and Jesus represented just one of a many that gave me the opportunity to reflect. In reality, the Camino offers 800 kilometers (500 miles) of thinking. For much of the day, every single day, for 40 days, thoughts of my previous failures and future hopes began to change my future path. And each time I saw a marker signifying someone’s death while hiking the Way made this journey and my future plans all the more real; I gained new wisdom with each memorial: life is precious because living brings uncertainty, fear, challenge, and even danger. Life is arduous.
Can I really do this?
I must have asked myself this question about a thousand times a day. For me, the answer was not if, but how I must attempt the Camino, my Camino, my life. And for me, the answer to the how is the Who. During the ascents and descents, the blisters and bruises, the questioning and confirming of my sanity, Jesus was there.
How can this be? (Luke 1:34).
In Luke’s gospel Mary asks the angel Gabriel how she (a virgin) could conceive a child. He replies, “the power of the most High shall overshadow you. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God…because no word shall be impossible with God” (1:35; 37). And with Gabriel’s words, she knew both the how and the Who. As we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, how can we think about the concept of Jesus with us, in us, today and throughout Lent?
Braelyn: Today’s Feast Day called me to pull together as many of the portrayals of Mary as I could find from my journey. Each depiction shows a different side of her. Out of all of them, however, I think the last one is the one that strikes me the most. When I came across the statue hidden behind stacks of extra chairs, my initial reaction was one of sadness, even anger. How could they stow her away so discourteously? But then I saw the authenticity of the situation.
In saying yes to God, Mary was allowing herself to be set apart from the rest of humanity (which she already was). She was placed behind a barrier only God could breach. The Holy Family was, in the earthly sense, hidden away. Mary would bear the Christ, who humbled himself to both the manger and the cross. Saying yes, though full of grace and glory in the heavenly realm, was no glory in the earthly sense. It even meant risking her life (the penalty for adultery) and her society (isolation), yet she did. She allowed herself to trust God anyway.
During our quarantine, I have struggled with my faith. I have grappled with questions I’ve never met before. Deep ones. Despite these difficulties, I take comfort in the reminder that Jesus faced them and is present now in them. And Mary is praying.
About this Blog
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage through Spain, ending at the spot said to contain the relics of Saint James the Apostle. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel this route each year.