Newspaper article preceding my talk last Wednesday in San Miguel de Allende sums up what I’m about these days. Thanks to the Education Committee of the Community Church!
Tag Archives: Virgin of Guadalupe
I’ve written before about the young woman who took over as chief of police in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a town overrun and overcome with the violence resulting from the rivalry of two drug cartels. According to today’s Fort Worth Star Telegram she is now seeking asylum in the U.S. She fled here four months ago after receiving death threats. The seriousness of those threats was born out after an attack last Wednesday on a policewoman who remained behind.
Last March I revised the title of my original October, 2010, post to indicate that Marisol Valles Garcia’s “Guadalupe Presence” was now “gone.” Identifying “virgin qualities” has been a recurring theme of this blog. To unabashedly quote myself:
Virginity is powerful. In its original concept, it had NOTHING to do with physiology. Being a virgin meant having authority, because a virgin was “author” of her own experience. She carried no labels from any faction. She was defined by no relationship other than the one she maintained with her Creator. She was no one’s daughter, servant, wife, lover, or mother. She was “one-in-herself.” She was whole, complete, un-captured, unbroken, un-invaded, intact.
Revision is a necessity when we place one person on a pedestal and say “SHE” or “HE” is the embodiment of whatever good we’re searching for — and trust that that individual will come up with solutions — will be “the answer” for whatever ails us. Surveying the current field of Republican hopefuls in the States, taking account of the current incumbent, and then doing the same thing for a field of Mexican presidential hopefuls, I am convinced that the days of looking for “a hero,” male or female, are past us. The “pickin’s” are rather sparse in the hero department these days. They seem to be even sparser in the virgin department, whatever variety of virgin you might consider. But enough has been written about that.
Or maybe not. If anything comes out of the constant litany of hero failures and moral shortcomings of elected officials, it may be a heightened longing for virtues lost. In our forty year long “War on Drugs” the U.S. has used practically every violent and subversive means to counteract violent and subversive means — even providing arms to drug cartels. Recriminations on this subject are many, but recriminations only go so far. A practical, positive step toward redeeming our collective “virgin qualities” would be to provide safe harbor for those virtues when someone has tried to live them. Let’s provide asylum for Marisol Valles Garcia.
It’s the day after my father’s funeral in Lubbock, Texas. I’ve been awake for hours, even went out for a walk before daybreak, drawn by a full moon and the thought that exercise might dissipate pent up emotions. I crept out the door, not wanting to disturb sleeping relatives scattered through the house. I almost fell into the flowerbed. Weird stairs. This is not the house I grew up in. Everything seems strange right now. The moonlight turned out to be mostly from streetlights, the full moon itself unspectacular above the orangey artificial glow. A wind, dry and dusty, sapped moisture from my nose and lips, and left my skin feeling scratchy. Cranky, I crossed the street, turned around and came back in.
I miss my home in Mexico. The full moon there is shining on Centennial festivities. Yesterday was Revolution Day in La Peñita. My dad would have loved the fireworks, music, and little kids dressed up in costumes. I miss Daddy. I had breakfast in Santa Monica last week with a Facebook friend who had read Virgin Territory and identified with my memories of being raised on the High Plains of Texas. Blocks from the Pacific, we unconsciously lapsed into our native drawl, laughing when we both noticed. Neither of us talk that way now, but there are a few tell tale signs that give us away as Texans. One of them is the phrase, “my daddy.” Another is funeral food: pots of beans, home made potato salad, Jell-o concoctions, casseroles, glazed ham, pounds of smoked brisket, and acres of dessert. Do they mourn this way in Santa Monica? I don’t think so. Arugula is not a comfort food. They do mourn this way in Mexico, only with tamales.
Dad would have delighted in my Mexican experience. There are Sam Jackson Humidaire units and drying systems at work in cotton gins all over the world, many in Mexico. I talked last night with a company engineer who had just returned from servicing some of them installed forty-five miles south of the border towns of Presidio/Ojinaga, a peaceful area where Mennonites grow cotton, not drug crops. It is Dad’s machinery that helps make growing cotton profitable in places as diverse and widespread as Tajikistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Greece, Turkey, Australia, Egypt, Central and South America, South Africa, Israel, and yes, Afghanistan. If you wear cotton, the fiber in your garment has probably passed through a system designed or inspired by the man I called Daddy. He was brilliant.
But that daddy disappeared sometime during these last eight years. I can’t say exactly when his pensiveness and dry humor turned unresponsive, or his thoughtful reflection ceased to take concrete form in vibrant conversation and repartee. Even this past year he’d come out with plays on words that would make our jaws drop they were so funny. Did his departure begin under the guise of apathy and indifference, a sense of resignation generally identified with growing older? Did I mistake his waning passion for mellowing, instead of recognizing the black hole where there was no there there? I have no question about one thing: Alzheimer’s sucks.
We opened a time capsule last night, after well-fed guests left and the house had cleared of all but family. It was a caramel corn container that Boy Scouts sell, filled with letters written by family members and then sealed shut with duct tape. The label on the lid read “Christmas Day, 1999. Do not open until Christmas, 2009.” OK, we’re a little late. But this is the first time the family has been together since 1999. So almost a year later than planned, we took turns reading our individual thoughts about the new millennium. Ashton, now a self-possessed college freshman, was surprised at the tight little wad of paper she’d scribbled as an angry eight-year old in a post-Christmas snit. “Mean Kindahl. Rude Savannah,” she’d described her sisters. “I’m sorry,” she said to them last night, all of the sisters sitting together, laughing uproariously at the image of that ranting little girl who had stapled her letter to the future shut.
That was the beautiful thing. We were laughing, all of us. Sweet Ashton was before us, her true image intact, untouched by the past. And, now that the sun is up, I realize that with yesterday’s memorial, the true image of my dad was restored as well. The silent and distant resident of Grace House was no more Daddy than that angry eight-year old is Ashton. Sam Jackson’s friends and family were there to share their stories and memories, to bring him to life – his identity intact, sweet, solid, unbroken, and whole. Hah! My dad with virgin qualities! Perhaps there’s an Inner Guadalupe in us all.
I just returned from a visit with my Mom in Lubbock. One thing women in my age group seem to have in common is that we often have “issues” with her from whose loins we have sprung. This recent visit was harmonious, mainly because a lot of prayer went before it, I’ve learned the value of responding rather than reacting, and my husband consciously and valiantly ran interference while we were at ground zero.
It appears though, just from my personal observation, that women younger than the boomer generation have better relationships with their mothers, to the point that teenagers and women in their twenties seem to positively be best friends with their Moms, never far from cell phone contact or texting check-ins. Wahoo! I count this cultural progress.
But cultures vary across the globe, and finding the universal symbol for “the perfect mother” is an idea that doesn’t always translate easily. I heard of a man teaching English to Japanese students, trying to demonstrate the word “mother” by cradling a baby in his arms. The students didn’t get it. Then a bi-lingual colleague suggested another gesture — a fierce look and shaking index finger. Ah! So! Mother!
That certainly wouldn’t be the case in Mexico. Have a look at this article by Marilyn Davis, originally printed in 1999 in El Ojo del Lago. The article was recently re-printed in the sister publication here on the west coast, El Ojo del Mar. Again, from personal observation, I see Mexican mothers emulating that Guadalupe presence. It’s one of those things that makes Virgin Territory special.
PS — Bob Brock — thanks for the great image!
I totally misconnected with my friend Ann yesterday and last night, so I find myself tucked up this morning in a cozy cabin motel in the Columbia River Gorge. I can hear a waterfall across the road, one of many I saw yesterday evening. In deepening twilight I made my way upriver, stopping to admire Bridal Veil Falls, Weewingee-something Falls, Multnomah Falls, and et. al. falls — too many and too numerous to mention. Mainly I was punching redial. Lewis and Clark had Sacajawea. I have neither GPS or bluetooth, only my Virgin mobile phone. I did finally connect with Ann, only after I’d checked into my current refuge and headed for a local diner – still open!
But for now I’m alone, and the voices of those who have gone before are in my head. No, not Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea, maybe. After all, it was the concept of the feminine divine that seemed to resonate most with the audience yesterday at SoulFood Books. Listening, being accessible, being there to help and encourage – that’s what the Virgin of Guadalupe stands for. That’s what we all need in a guide and guardian. That’s what brought me to this cozy place and gave me the opportunity to regroup and recover.
Yesterday I was at Soulfood Books in Redmond, WA, and the event was recorded! Take a look. I haven’t brought myself to watch the recording yet. It’s the first public speaking I’ve done for five years. Just comfort myself that I will get better. (Note to self: DO NOT start reading from the book. Half of your audience may take their laptops and lattes and leave.) More opportunity on the horizon. This coming Thursday evening 7 PM, it’s Borders Bookstore at Oakway Center in Eugene, Oregon.