Crucifixion Thorn, U.S.A., and the Land of North America: A Spirituality of the Cross
When looking at a wide panorama of television screens, the agents zoomed in on one region and said, "Yesterday in this spot we found three immigrants who died after crossing the border." When I asked the name of the area, an agent replied, "It's called Crucifixion Thorn. It's a nature preserve that has a rare, spiny plant, like the one used to crown Jesus' head." (20) He was simply recounting a basic geographical fact, without any apparent awareness of the theological ramifications of this statement.
In the spirituality of the immigrants, Altar, Tohono O'odham, and Crucifixion Thorn are geographical stations on a dangerous and cosily journey of sacrifice, asceticism, and the cross.
(30) While the mestizo Jesus is certainly relevant to any discussion of Mexican immigrant spirituality (and is explored elsewhere in this issue), (31) I will limit myself here to a discussion of the "crucified peoples." In what follows I will argue that this image, which Lassalle-Klein correctly asserts has found broad resonance with global Christians interested in the "option for the poor," (32) is a suitable theological metaphor for speaking about the arduous journey of undocumented Mexican immigants through Altar, Tohono O'odham, and Crucifixion Thorn. (33)
In such habitats, smaller trees and shrubs such as mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Wright's acacia (Acacia wrightii), Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana), lotebush (Ziziphus obtusifolia), crucifixion thorn
(Koeberlinia spinosa) and snake eyes (Phaulothamnus spinescens) are common (Vora 1990; scientific names are from Lonard et al.
The habitat, located in Sanderson Canyon at an elevation of 1013.5 meters, is comprised of widely-spaced mesquite separated by bare ground and/or patches of lechuguilla, prickly pear, crucifixion thorn
, composites, mixed grasses, and forbs growing in calcareous soil, an assemblage that is typical of a 'succulent desert' (Gehlbach, 1979).