The Via Crucis of a Personal Pilgrimage

According to Catholic tradition, the devotion of the “Via Crucis” or “The Way of the Cross” honors the last few hours of Jesus’ death. It consists of a spiritual pilgrimage, acknowledging 14 stations or shrines that depict distinct events beginning from Jesus’ death sentence to his crucifixion and burial. The phrase “via crucis” or “way of the cross” is also used to symbolize all the obstacles we need to overcome when we try to achieve a certain goal.

Una EstaciΓ³n de Via Crucis en Huancayo
The fifth Via Crucis station commemorates when Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry the cross.
Along with thousands of other Peruvians across the country on Good Friday, we did Huancayo’s version of the Via Crucis. In Huancayo, the 14 stations are set up on a winding path around a hill with a giant metal cross adorning its peak.

Other than the typical route where you pray and leave a rock at each shrine along the way, there are two other ways up the hill. You can ride a taxi up the winding path, speeding by each of the shrines, or hike directly up the hill, bypassing all of the stations. The latter is the fastest route up, but it’s also the more torturous path because of the steep incline of the hike. As an afterthought, it could be an experiential way to signify Jesus’ suffering during the Passion.

El Cerro de Via Crucis en Huancayo
Most people took the direct shortcut up the Via Crucis hill.
Joining the majority, we tightened our shoelaces to huff and puff our way up the hill via the direct shortcut.

In undertaking this mini pilgrimage today, I realized that living in Peru has become somewhat of a pilgrimage for me in the sense that I was drawn to a place that was meaningful to me and the journey has been transformational, endowing me with insights and understanding. Although I haven’t taken the typical route and I sometimes feel like I’ve chosen the tougher passage, I have also discovered more and more people along this path who have motivated me and helped remind me of the value of my choices. In the blogging world, I would especially like to thank Janet Callaway, Sherry Zander, Rowena Bolo, Karen Swaffield and Diana Simon.

They say that when you return home from a pilgrimage, nothing is ever the same again.

What has your personal pilgrimage been like?

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Comments (48)

  • I count it a privilege to be included among those you thanked. Thank you for allowing me to participate in your journey. There's nothing more gratifying than seeing someone branch out into new areas and being able to be a part of that. And what a moving story. I have always been inspired by the stations of the cross — the Passion of Christ moves me greatly. Journeys like yours always remind me of the poem 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost.. The narrator took the one less traveled (less familiar) and that "made all the difference."
    My recent post Ripoff Report — Darryl James

    • Thank YOU for being a part of my journey! =) You've made the hugest difference in how much I've grown in such a short time.

      I had forgotten about Frost's poem, Sherry! Thanks for reminding me! It's definitely in line with my journey and I shall place it on my desktop. =)

  • Your writing and the topics you choose are so beautiful Samantha. Your experience of Peru has not only been transformational for you, but learning about it continues to intrique me. Experiences of different countries, cultures and ways of being are a pilgrimage into the unknown but can teach us so much.

    Although I had heard of the stations of the cross from a christian perspective, I had not heard it being used to symbolise obstacles in our path towards goals. What a great way of looking at something in a more meaningul way and something I can recall easily.

    My recent post Are Easter Eggs Your Only Gift This Year

    • Hey, I never thought about it that way, Maureen — "a pilgrimage into the unknown." Being a journey to a "place of importance," it makes complete sense that I choose the unknown, an indistinguishable location outside of my comfort zone that has significance for me.

      I'm so glad that you're able to identify with my reflections and enjoy my posts even though you're not in South America. I recently realized that this was an unconscious goal of mine — to be able to have people connect with me even without other ties to Peru. Thank *you* for being a part of my journey too, Maureen. =)

  • This is such a beautiful post. My first TLC post for today and I am truly happy! You writing make me want to see the city first hand!
    My personal journey has been tough and it is so at the moment, but I am trying to change things for the better as far as I can.

    Lovely post!
    My recent post How About Winning 500 for Blogging

    • You are so inspiring, Hajra! There are always parts of the journey that are tougher than others, but what seems to count is how you face them. I hope that I also take action as you do and make the change that I want to happen just as you're taking action and participating in the blogging contest! =)

      Thanks for being a great example, Hajra!

  • @DressingMyTruth

    I have been re-reading The Last Week by Marcus Borg & Dominic Crossan this week and reflecting on my own journey of faith. Great post!
    My recent post Love the One Youre With My Continued Quest to Find Signature Style w- Six Items or Less

    • How relevant! I just had to click through and find out what that book was about — I love the part of the book's description when they describe the last week as true passion as we know it (enthusiasm and commitment) rather than "suffering" (the Latin, "passio"). It's hard for me to access English books here in Peru, but I've got it on my list of books to read in the future! =)

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeanine! So glad we're in touch through the CM group! =)

  • My journey as a mom has been the most rewarding adventure of my life! Thanks for sharing your experiences, I really enjoy them!
    My recent post What’s Up

    • True that! Joining the MomSquawk contest made a huge difference in my understanding of motherhood. There were so many touching accounts of being a parent that I can only imagine how rewarding that journey is. =)

      Thanks for your thoughts, Jen! =)

  • Very interesting post. I see there are paralelisms between all latin american countries (we had several viacrucis, the most important are a big route from Peralvillo to La Villa Temple (in wich are the Our Lady of Guadalupe original image) and the other from Our Lady of Guadalupe's Basilica to the top of the Cerrito.

    Well… tomorrow in http://gjsuap.com I will comment a long post on this themes, inspired in part by your post. Thanks!
    My recent post … Y el mar se abrió

    • Wow! The "Via Crucis" must be massive in Mexico! The path we were on here in Huancayo was tiny in comparison to Lima's Cerro San Cristobal, but I imagine Mexico's routes being larger and filled with more people! Have you ever walked the path? =)

      I'll be sure to check out the post, Gonzalo! =)

      • Samantha:

        I do some Via Crucis, but small one (in a route of about eight blocks arround the church) and some time El Cerrito de la Villa one. Also I visit Montserrate in Bogotá; they had beautiful full-size statues.

        The biggest representation in Mexico is Iztapalapa's Cerro de la Estrella (Star's Colin) in wich a 10,000 actors and pilgrims performs a recreation of the Passion. About 3 million visitors attend the ceremony in the 4 days festival!!

        Saludos….
        My recent post Lleguemos a la cúspide de la Revolución

        • What a beautiful Via Crucis to do so around a church. =) Thanks for mentioning Bogotá's Monserrate too! I was actually there just last year and I can almost imagine what it would be like at Easter time with those full-size statues you speak of. It was so beautiful there although I remember not being able to breathe well once I got up top! =)

          Wow! The Via Crucis on the Cerro de la Estrella sounds absolutely grand! I hope I can visit one day! =) Thanks for letting me know about these! It's obvious that I've yet to learn about much of South America. =)

  • Hi Samantha,

    Coupled with your eloquent story telling ability, what I most enjoy about visiting your blog is the peaceful vibration I feel whenever I am here. Thank you.

    I always find your metaphors spot on. They appeal to the ex school teacher in me since for me it made most sense to teach using stories and relevant analogies that my students could relate to.

    I believe all of life is a pilgrimage and travelling 'the road less travelled' (to borrow another author's title) has always for me been the more fulfilling option albeit often harder.

    For me there is a distinct difference in meaning between the words 'journey' and 'pilgrimage'.

    A pilgrimage has far more to do with an intention and returning to one's starting point having been transformed in some way.

    It's often only when get back home again that you truly realize the extent of that transformation.

    ~Marcus
    My recent post 10 Ways to Leverage a Top Blogs List

    • What a beautiful compliment, Marcus. I never thought of creating such a peaceful vibe, but it will now be a goal of mine that I continue to create that kind of presence. =) There are definitely blogs I visit that energize me and others that touch me, but peacefulness is something I've yet to feel on a blog and I'm ecstatic that mine gives off such a feeling.

      It's such an interesting concept to have all of life be a pilgrimage, but it makes complete sense with your description of a path of intention and change. I wonder what beautiful things I'll learn whenever I "get back home." =)

      Thanks as always for your lovely thoughts and for adding so much value to the conversation, Marcus! =)

  • Lovely post Samantha. You have such a wonderful way of writing and expressing your life and experiences. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter.

    • Thank you so much, Lynn! I've been trying different writing styles recently, so I really appreciate your opinion of my writing. =)

      Happy Easter to you and yours as well! =) So glad we've had more of a chance to connect during this season!

  • Hi Samantha,

    What a beautiful story and one that I can relate to in many ways. First the Via Crucis event itself as it is also an important one here in Rome, Italy where it is attended by millions of people at the Colosseum.

    Secondly and probably for relevant is your personal journey. Thanks for sharing it openly and I too have not taken the typical route. However, I am better person because of that and I believe you are too. I actually touched a bit about my personal pilgrimage in my latest post when I was diagnosed with cancer. It has made me a different person.

    Last but not least, thank you for the mention. I am honored to know you and to have the opportunity to learn more about you through your posts. I subscribe to your updates because I know that every post that is published is top notch read πŸ™‚

    Just in case you are wondering – no I won't be unsubscribing to this blog.

    Have a wonderful Easter!

    My recent post What Easter Means To Me

    • I had a feeling that the Via Crucis event would be even more grand and amazing in Rome! =) How crazy that they perform it in the Colosseum. Have you been to see it there, Diana?

      You know, now that I think about it — in a way, we all take our own distinctive paths. Everyone has their own challenges that makes their path tough for them and life is their transformational journey. I can't even imagine what it would have been like if cancer had never happened to you — you may have never become a coach and we may never have met! =P

      Diana, I had no idea that you subscribed to my blog! Thank you so much for supporting me in so many ways! =)

  • Sam, aloha. What a wonderful surprise to see myself mentioned in your post. Sam, it has truly been my pleasure "getting to know you" through our respective blogs and comment sections. Your comments, questions and insights make me stretch, grow and expand my mind to respond to you. Thank you so much for that.

    Earlier today in responding to your comment, I asked you about Easter celebrations in Peru. Now, having seen your post, the questions are answered..

    Sam, loved the way you talked about the Via Crucis and your personal pilgrimage. From what you have revealed in past posts and comments, I know that your trip to Peru and your time there has been quite a personal pilgrimage. It is my honor to have accompanied you on a part of the that journey, Sam. It makes my heart sing to know that I have brought value to your life.

    Sam, no matter that topic, it is always pure delight to read your posts because of you express your thoughts so beautifully.

    Best wishes for a glorious day and week. Aloha. Janet
    My recent post What do “they” know about Triberr that you don’t By Janet Callaway The Natural Networker

    • I love the idea of helping each other "grow and expand." What a beautiful way to put it, Janet. =)

      You definitely have been an important part of my personal pilgrimage, though it's still a funny concept to me, to be able to connect with others so profoundly over the Interweb. I bet it's the tactics you teach and the example you've set as a "Natural Networker," that has really allowed me to reach across to others over the Internet waves.

      Janet, thank you for your unending encouragement to keep on this path. =)

  • Samantha,

    Your personal pilgrimage is inspiring and I long to make my way back down to SA one day for a visit. What a beautiful and spiritual experience you had that day.

    My newest pilgrimage is challenging and quite rewarding. Stepping into the public light offering services that were once "ghost" services has given me perspective. It has given me an appreciation for vulnerability. It's given me hope for a brighter future because of the new friends I've made.

    Thank you for a wonderful article πŸ™‚

    Jon
    My recent post Smart Online Business Strategy- Interview with a World Record Holder

    • You know, Jon, the funny thing is that I never meant for the hike to be spiritual. =P There's just something about a real challenge when I'm physically pushing the limits of my body's capability that brings out something spiritual in me. =)

      Wow! I had no idea about this transition of yours, Jon! I used to be a ghostwriter, so I completely know what you mean about stepping out into the light and feeling slightly vulnerable. I am so excited to be sharing this adventure with you! =)

  • Usman@FirstHosting

    Hi, Samantha!

    reading this blog, I just feel that how many things in this world is going on and living aport from them we can get our self updated due to blogs, but these kinds of typical blogs are really few who gives such kind of information..

    Regards
    My recent post How to Stay Secure Online

    • You're so right, Usman! I know that I've learned so much about the world through others' blogs as well. Do you have a more personal blog, other than First Hosting, where you write about your day-to-day experiences as well? =) I'd love to get to know you better! =)

      In the meantime, I'll head over to First Hosting right now! =)

  • Great article Samantha. I think I've been on a few pilgrimages, my physical travelling overseas being one of them, the other being depression and then life itself. You write so beautifully.
    My recent post The whole of life is but a moment of time

    • I love the pilgrimages you identify, Janine! You're so right that pilgrimages aren't only physical journeys, but also journeys in our mind. In that sense, I can definitely think of a couple mental breakdowns I've had that have turned into transformational adventures as well. Thanks for having me think about that and for your lovely comment. =) My blog thanks you too! =)

    • What a cool idea to go on a virtual pilgrimage, Jane! =) I had no idea that my blog post became one. How beautiful!

      Thank you so much, Jane. As I mentioned to Dev, I never imagined I could be a storyteller, but I had been thinking a lot about developing my creative writing. Thanks for a push in the right direction. =) Hug!

  • Hi Sam, how eloquently you describe your personal pilgrimage.

    I feel that over the course of the last few years I have had to tighten my shoelaces and huff and puff in roads less traveled a lot too! πŸ™‚ Lots of new experiences, the best of all being my gifts from God, and that is getting to raise my children. Others have been finding my place on earth to do what I love to do… helping others step out into the great unknown and get in the game of personal change.

    I loved your post. It sounds to me t hat your experience in Peru has been one of many awakenings.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jayne
    My recent post How to Take Control of Life Instead of Life Controlling YOU!

    • Wow! What a beautiful cycle, Jayne! As part of your personal pilgrimage, you essentially help others step into theirs. =)

      I love that I can be a part of your journey as your blog is so motivational. =) So glad we're in touch and thanks for appreciating my post, Jayne!

  • Hi Samantha,

    This is my first time visiting your blog and it was quite like a breath of fresh air! It just feels relaxing to be here. It is very unique!

    Thank you for sharing your personal pilgrimage. It is so inspiring! In terms of my own personal pilgrimage, I feel like I've been through a few in my many years on this Earth. My first marriage was definitely a pilgrimage of sorts! πŸ™‚

    More recently, I find myself evolving from established overworked professional, taking a few steps back to really understand what matters in life. Your health, the relationships you build and the good you can do for others. It's been quite a path and not without its bumps and bruises, but I look forward to every day of it.

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life!
    My recent post How To Find The Time To Build Your Network Marketing Business

    • Bob, wow! Thank you so much for your very kind words. I don't know how I managed to do it, but I love that I've created a relaxing atmosphere in my blog. If I only knew it was possible, it would have been my goal. =)

      You're so right that we can have multiple personal pilgrimages, Bob. Now that I think about it, it seems to makes a big difference what kind of attitude we have going into a journey. If we mean for it to be transformational, then it will be, just as your most recent journeys have been in discovering what you value most in life. =)

      Thank you so much for giving me a glimpse of *your* life as well, Bob! So glad we're in touch through the CM group and I really look forward to connecting with you and Rosemary more! =)

  • We all endure struggles and joy. When it rains the water comes down over the good as well as the bad. The difference is not so much what you have overcome but how. When you arrive at the other side a better person you have fought the good fight. Everyone has times of joy, but when your joy is in helping others and demonstrating love that is pure joy that brings peace into your life. From your words you have peace.

    I'm new to your blog and enjoyed it very much.
    My recent post Three steps to working with a comma

    • Orlando, I absolutely love your analogy of the rain. To expand on it, that very rain that comes down on the good and the bad also does good and bad to the world. It waters the flowers and creates destructive floods.

      I also love the values that came out in your comments. =) We have much in common indeed, in the sense that we enjoy helping others and showing love. You have simplified my life in such a beautiful way! =)

      Thank you oh so much for visiting, Orlando! I'm so glad we're in touch because I know I'll need writing tips from your blog as well. =) Take care and talk soon!

  • Hi Sam,

    This post was an Easter surprise for me, and I want to thank you for our growing friendship. I am honored to know you, and to be a part of your online journey.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us, and your most recent Via Crusis experience. I had been to one, back in the Philippines (in Mt. Samat which is a location related to the Death March), but I was only a freshman, and I must admit that the experience had little meaning to me back then. I am sure that if I get the chance to do it in the future, I'll gain totally different, more mature and more spiritual insights from it.

    I have always admired your strength and faith Sam, from the first time I learned about you and your journey in Peru. Please know that you are a big part of my personal pilgrimage in the blogging world as well! Well, being a solopreneur/freelancer is truly a pilgrimage as we take the very direction which is uncommon and unfamiliar to our families and friends. Even if they don't understand what we are trying to achieve most of the time, they will always love us. Glad that we both accept this fact! πŸ™‚

    – Rowena

    My recent post Three Top Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail Pt 2

    • Rowena, I completely forgot that the Philippines must have Via Crucis paths as well! It must be beautiful on Mt. Samat! I hope to visit it one day and I'm curious what the Via Crucis path is like in Davao too! I'll have to ask my dad. =)

      Oh, Rowena, you know exactly how I feel. It can be hard to explain the freelancing path to my family and friends. I think that a lot of people think that it isn't serious. Although I do really enjoy my work and have fun connecting with others, it's also a serious career for me! =) But you're so right that they will always love us! =)

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Rowena! =) Hugs!

  • You are such an inspiration. Just come across you blog today, I can wait to read more about your journey thorough Peru.
    I have started my journey and newest pilgrimage is quite challenging. I have just launched a new business and brand and I need to get out there to promote my passion.

    I’m starting to believe in myself and am taking this journey will strength and courage.

    Thanks for sharing

    My recent post 3 Ways The Hedgehog Model Can Drive Your Business

    • Joyce, you are equally an inspiration to me! =) Your newest pilgrimage is so exciting and I'm so glad to have caught you at the cusp of it! I believe in you too!!

      We'll definitely be in touch, Joyce! =) Thanks for commenting!

  • Most often you will find that the path in life chosen to be less traveled is the path that is most rewarding. Christ spoke about this in the sermon on the mount (Matt.7:13-14) as he refered to entering into the straight gate. One of the reasons we are on this earth was to learn by our experiance. If we were all to learn, do, live and experiance the same things as the majority, our journey in life would have less purpose or impact on who we become.

    • That's a great piece from the Bible, Abe. It really adds to this post. Thank you! It just makes me feel more solid on my path. I really appreciate your support throughout this entire journey, Abe. I'm so glad to have met you!

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