Just last week, I took a trip up to the small, windswept town of Guadalupe, about an hour north of Santa Barbara. In the middle of the main street, tucked between an old antique store and a taqueria, stands a small, barren plot of dust. In the corner of this land is a small, covered arch, wherein a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe stands. It is surrounded by withering flowers and tall candles with her picture on them, as well as several other saints. To the right is a small marble bench for weary travelers, and to the left on the wall it reads “And you, you who are my messenger, In you I place my absolute trust”. This is repeated in Spanish and Nahuatl. These are the words spoken by the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego at the hill of Tepeyac, which one day would become part of Mexico City. Below her statue is a kneeling stand, so that passers might have a place to pray. The shrine is protected by white-washed walls and marble, building up to a yellow rose that caps the beautiful sanctum. On the floor is marble too, with golden leaves etched in that contrast the bland grey of the sidewalk. The ceiling is a faint blue, resembling the cloudy sky. Many people often stop to pray or to pay respect. I arrived on a windy day, and when I stepped into the confines of the sanctuary, the howling of the wind was quieted and the rushing cold had retreated. Soon I had to leave though, and stepped back out, into the screaming gale. We made our way cautiously across the road, nearly falling once or twice. We made it to the car and got safely home, and there I looked upon our own candles, with the Virgin of Guadalupe’s face staring down. There, there was our own shrine, our own sanctuary.


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