By Susan Montoya Bryan
The Associated Press
BERNALILLO, N.M. — Along the irrigation canal that cuts through this centuries-old New Mexico town, a small group of churchgoers gathers to recite the rosary before tossing rose petals into the water.
Remnants of a tradition that stretches back to the days of Spanish explorers, the humble offerings are aimed at blessing this year’s meager irrigation season and easing a relentless drought that continues to march across New Mexico and much of the western half of the U.S.
From the heart of New Mexico to West Texas and Oklahoma, the pressures of drought have resulted in a resurgence of faith — from Christian preachers and Catholic priests encouraging prayer processions to American Indian tribes using their closely guarded traditions in an effort to coax Mother Nature to deliver some much-needed rain.
On Sunday, congregations across eastern New Mexico and West Texas are planning a day of prayer for moisture and rain.
“We’re worried, but we’re maintaining our traditional ways and cultural ways. Together we pray,” said Peter Pino, administrator of Zia Pueblo.