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.