But, as to this post...
I just returned to Denver from a week and a half retracing and remembering the Trek of the Seven--the trip that seven of our sisters made from St. Louis, through California, to Tucson. Our little group of six began in San Diego and trekked through the desert into Tucson. What a trip it was!
While we didn't suffer from lack of provisions and didn't have to get out and walk nearly as much as our sisters did, I think we were able to catch a little pioneer spirit as well as translating that spirit into our desire to respond in faith today. We started out heading south to the Mexican border. Our sisters crossed into Mexico a couple of times in an effort to find a more possible route. As it is a little more difficult today, we stayed as close to the border as we could, but didn't cross over. While the flowers and shoreline at Border Field were absolutely gorgeous, they couldn't quite mask the ugliness of the wall. We handed our camera to a man on the other side to take our picture. It is not the clearest picture, but I love it for other reasons.
We stopped in the little place where some ranchers proposed to the sisters, earnestly fearing that they wouldn't make it across the desert. We laid on some rocks that they, perhaps, slept on. We stayed the first night at what we were told was a "bunkhouse." Srs. Anne and Mary tried to say something about the ruggedness of our accomodations by telling us to make sure we brought a towel and by "solar heating" our supper on the dashboard of the car on the way there. What they called the "bunkhouse" actually turned out to be a Tudor mansion overlooking a ranch canyon. The Vincentians run a retreat center for children there. There were really bunkbeds, but there was also a six person Jacuzzi with a swanhead faucet. I only wish I had found that sooner.
We stopped for a communion service in Mountain Springs, what the sisters called the "abomination of desolation" for its rocky hills and lack of water. We saw the humanitarian water stops along the highway providing a safe stopping place for water for immigrants making the same desert trek today. We camped near Yuma, AZ where our sisters crossed the Colorado River on a rope ferry and later staffed a school for Native American children. We stopped in Dateland for a "world famous" date milk shake (I think I'll stick with something chocolate). Stopped to see the petroglyphs at Painted Rock that our sisters as well as persons coming through there for hundreds of years previous. Shortly after leaving there, we got our van stuck in about a foot and a half of sand trying to see the wagon trail still visible on the mesa. Luckily a man on a tractor (whom we are fondly calling our San Jose) came by with a chain and pulled us out. The whole experience was really too funny for words. That night our campsite was at Picacho Peak where soldiers appeared to escort our sisters through what was, at that time, dangerous Apache territory. The next morning we kept as a prayer morning, each of us spending it in our own ways. I went on a beautiful, albeit HOT, hike. We saw the graves of five of the seven sisters who made the first Trek and had a beautiful litany prayer service remembering the spirits that continue to resonate in our lives. Our sisters and associates greeted us warmly upon our arrival in Tucson. We had a poolside party, lots of wonderful food, and were able to share much of our journey fun with them. We have such a wonderful, dynamic history that really only feeds the dynamism of our community today.
On the return trip to L.A. there were only four of us in the van. We stopped in Komatke (a Native American mission where our sisters ran a boarding school for over four hundred students from eight tribes) and had a wonderful prayer summarizing the initial Trek and ours. The things we four took from the Trek were the continued call to "the more," trust, faith, and providence. When the sisters first started out they refused the food provisions that were offered but accepted little statues of Mary and the saints. At first I thought that was pretty ridiculous (I who like to eat at least every four hours). But ultimately, without the spiritual grounding behind what those trinkets meant, even the food would have done them no good. I came away from the experience and into this month of preparation for vows with great trust. All is and will be well. Exceedingly well.