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Lace up Your Jesus Sneakers

I find it hard to believe. And I try. I really make a concerted effort. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I should just stop over thinking before I get a spiritual hemorrhoid. Maybe I should just get out and run.

In Mexico, in the days leading up to December the 12th, young people run in relay carrying torches to keep a promise to the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is a celebration of faith that culminates in a Mass and a celebration.

Lots of believers labor and suffer for their god. This pilgrimage that can endure for many days is physically demanding and yet there is nothing flagellating about it. This is no hair shirt. There are no metal hooks. It’s a healthy exercise in taking your devotion on the road. They literally carry a torch. They run in shifts for days toward their patron Saint, their special intercessor who appeared for their salvation.

You could argue that the Roman Church somehow forced the appearance of a holy woman on the site where the indigenous people once worshiped another Mother of God. And yes, conversion’s a bitch. But many resisted. And persisted. This is the point. She is a symbol of true faith. Of how a people continue to practice the religion on their hearts and history even when pressed with another system of gods and dogma.

It’s nice to see the kids out and excited. And not in a maniacal Jesus Camp sort of way. They get it. And they get into it. They wear tee shirts and blow horns and march and play drums. Is it an ecstatic experience? Are the kids getting dizzy with love for Guadalupe? Or is it more of a slow burn? Are they different at the end of their journey? How can I get in the truck? (there’s a truck that follows slowly along with the torch bearer that carries the other members of the group and, presumably sandwiches and juice.)

Tomorrow is the big day. The passion play. When every Juan Diego kneels before his idol.

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