Friday, March 21, 2008

Lady Madonna, Running Shoes on Your Feet


Today is the day when thousands of folks throughout New Mexico and the Four Corners region hit the roads to walk to El Santuario de Chimayo, a tiny shrine in northern New Mexico, halfway between Santa Fe and Taos. They start their journey – many of them carrying crosses and photos of loved ones – in the dark hours right before dawn on Good Friday, and by Easter Sunday, arrive in Chimayo to join what can be up to 10,000 worshippers that pass through the doors of this 200-year-old chapel. Considered the "Lourdes of America," Chimayo represents to the faithful not only a place of worship and prayer, but also of healing, as exemplified by the "miraculous" crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas and of the sacred earth inside the El Posito, under which the crucifx was discovered.

A note left inside the chapel from a visitor from Las Cruces, New Mexico, reads: "If you are a stranger, If you are weary from the struggles in life, Whether you have a handicap, Whether you have a broken heart, Follow the long mountain road, Find a home in Chimayo."

Or, if you're like Sister Madonna Buder, you just keep on going.

Over the past twenty-six years, this 76-year-old Catholic nun has competed in 37 marathons, 300 triathlons, and 33 Ironman Triathlons. At age 75, she became the oldest woman to finish the Kailua-Kona Ironman World Championship. She did it again a year later.

Like many pilgrims to Chimayo have done, she started her journey as a way to seek healing for a family crisis – her brother, she discovered, was battling alcoholism. Sister Madonna says she made a deal with God, offering her suffering in training for and running her first-ever race (Spokane's Lilac Bloomsday 12K) in exchange for the grace her brother would need to stop drinking.

Every race since then, she's raced for a cause, whether public – like the thousands of dollars she's raised for Multiple Sclerosis – or personal and private – like the Ironman she ran in the name of a dear friend battling cancer.

Which just goes to show you, you can either believe in miracles, or you can go out there and make your own.

12 comments:

Aunty Belle said...

Wow! what a story!

(shhh! I'm fudgin' a li'l bit...bein' real quiet fer Good Friday, and until Easter morn--but jes' a note to thanky fer visitin' the Front Porch and lookin' ter see were Aunty still alive)

The Troll said...

Wow. That's inspiring. Do they do a passion play when they get to the destination?

Anonymous Boxer said...

What a great story. My Sister has visited Chimayo and says it's one her favorite places on the planet. It's now on my list of things to see/do.

Sister Buder is an inspiration and reading this was a nice way to start my day.

Doris Rose said...

Thanks for the info on Chimayo, I had wondered and now would like to visit.

moi said...

Aunty: Wondering just what we're doing to read come Easter!

Troll: Nope, they do not. But the atmosphere alone is more spiritual than just about anything.

AB: A definite must. Then a hope, skip, and jump down the road to the Rancho de Chimayo for the best New Mexican food around. Their red chile is very distinctive.

Doris: Might make an excellent day trip for the COWWs.

Gypsy said...

Wow, what an inspirational woman.

Just wanted to stop by and wish you and your family a wonderful, safe and Happy Easter Moi.

Meghan said...

Talk about being filled with The Passion. What an amazing woman! I don't even like to think about the kind of suffering involved in doing and an Ironman... and this woman has done 33. Holy [wordofchoice], indeed.

Rock on, Sister Madonna Buder.

And... Happy Easter, dear Moi!

upset waitress said...

Merry easter Moi :)

Ashley Ladd said...

Very interesting and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

The Troll said...

happy Easter!

ThursdayNext said...

Hope you had a lovely Easter and are enjoying some good leftovers. I ate way to many chocolate eggs today...

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

sister madonna is my personal hero.