Pilgrimage

In Cincinnati we have a Good Friday tradition that dates back to the 1800s. Starting at midnight, as Holy Thursday crosses to Good Friday, people begin to pray the steps leading up Mt. Adams to Holy Cross-Immaculata Church. Mt. Adams is visually a high point even among all the hills that ring the city, and the church stands out, especially with the statue of Mary that crowns the roof.

I never “prayed the steps” as a child, although a friend of mine was featured in a photo essay in one of the local papers one Good Friday. I finally made the pilgrimage myself about 18 years ago. I went alone on a gorgeous spring day of blue skies and daffodils. I’d been away from the church for a long time by then, so I repeated an affirmation on each step; and I still went into the church to pray in my fashion and let the atmosphere of reverence and rich decoration bring back memories.

The tradition is still popular, although the weather has been terrible today. I wouldn’t want to be standing on that exposed hillside in an electrical storm, but mostly it’s been rainy and cool—conditions not severe enough to dissuade the faithful. UPDATE: Apparently conditions were worse today than I realized, according to additional news reports I saw this evening. True devotion in the face of pneumonia-causing downpours and the threat of being struck by lightning is impressive.

Nudge: Write about a “pilgrimage.” By definition, a pilgrimage can be a journey to a shrine or holy destination, a journey to a far-off place, or “the course of life on earth” (per Merriam-Webster). Your pilgrimage doesn’t have to be religious in nature. It can be as simple as a return to a childhood location, traveling to the next town to see a rock band you’ve always loved but somehow never attended one of their concerts, or visiting a historical landmark that holds meaning for you.

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