duality

it’s so strange to be alive today. when i was in high school my beliefs were pretty much grounded. raised catholic, 13 years of catholic school with all the ceremonies, daily mass ans communion, lenten preparations, living nativity participation at christmas. yea, my beliefs were engrained in the puzzle that was my life. i believed this, with all my heart and in God. so much so that when i went to see “the exorcist” (it’s just been a few years i can hear the word or music without panicking) i was so affected i had to see a priest for counseling. as strong as my belief in God, was my belief in the devil. all my years of religious training, bible reading and catechism learning told me this was very possible. done with my therapy and a compassionate husband (at the time) i got over it.it was not easy, shower curtain always open when not in use, closet doors always closed and at least one tiny, little light in a corner. time passed and i evolved mentally, but i always had my faith. i didn’t talk about it nor do public displays, an example learned from my devout abuelita. she wasn’t like the other grandmas who sat in the front of the church rattling their rosary beads so all would know they were praying. mi abuelita sat towards the back with me, her rosary tucked in her sleeve. when i asked why she didn’t pray like the others, she explained the love of God was private, not public. it taught me so much. as a child my school was visited by a bishop, high-ranking in the catholic church. the nuns told us not to make eye contact with him, keep our heads bowed. if he came near we should kneel and kiss his ring. my  abuelita & i walked to the school hall to see him. then, there he was, right in front of us. i knelt, reached for his hand to kiss THE RING. my abuelita stopped me, made me get up. “no hija, no te hinques, y no le beses la mano.” i was stunned! the bishop asked why she stopped me, she responded that faith was not a public spectacle, but private, from the heart. he blessed both of us, laying his hand on our heads.

as time passed and i got older, i came to question what i had been taught to believe. clay statues were revered, a wooden cross made in pennsylvania was to be genuflected in front of and water mixed with oils blessed by a man was holy. i am a logical, mostly rational person. slowly but surely all of that became less revered. the vatican at one point allowed us not to have to confess our “sins” to a priest any longer. we could now do this between ourself and God. of course, time keeps on passing, i keep evolving. i now question the value of the religion i learned. now exposed to the atrocities committed in the name of god, i’m disappointed.  i’ve read the bible at least 5 times, once for a religion class, once for an english class to analyze the writng styles, once as a history of the time, once just because and intermittently when arguing a point.

i’m now at a point where i believe from two perspectives, that of the girl growing up, learning and believing the teachings. the other, an adult, a woman who has been exposed to other faiths, beliefs and religious styles.  i’ve gone grom 1960’s catechist to 2012’s woman with a jumble of christian and buddist beliefs. my newest faith teacher is the dalai lama. i have learned so much about humans and humanity, faith and beliefs from him. and of course, mi abuelita is there watching over me.

yes older and wiser

there comes a time in our youth where we are bursting with righteous indignation over crimes and atrocities against humanity, protesting and hollering, demanding wrongs be righted.some are others too huge to topple. then comes the time when you are in one way or another, nesting, politically dormant almost. then you seem to come full circle, at a point back to all that passion for unforgotten ideals. you’re not older, you’re wiser and you know finally, you were right.

yes older and wiser

there comes a time in our youth where we are bursting with righteous indignation over crimes and atrocities against humanity, protesting and hollering, demanding wrongs be righted.some are others too huge to topple. then comes the time when you are in one way or another, nesting, politically dormant almost. then you seem to come full circle, at a point back to all that passion for unforgotten ideals. you’re not older, you’re wiser and you know finally, you were right.

meeting cesar

i first came in contact with cesar & the ufw in 1968 when he came to east LA college to speak about the union and the grape boycott. as i waited for the keynote speaker (cesar) i could see this small, brown-skinned man with his hair slightly disheveled. i thought this must be cesar’s assistant, whick would explain so many aproaching him for and to give information. the man was so soft-spoken you could barely hear him a few feet away. the introduction finished, cesar would now speak, i looked behind us to see him approach, nothing. facing the front i saw the man, the charismatic man, approaching the microphone. so many thoughts ran through my still unpoliticized mind. he began to speak. the voice, it turned off everything else and held me mesmerized. he spoke of farmworker hardships, abuses, chemical exposures while working in the fields with very little financial recompense. he talked about children working in fields doing what only adults should do. his words entered my mind and raced to my heart. “what can i do?” “i have to do something!” i felt tears stinging my eyes and i’ve never been a good crier. he spoke of marches, hunger strikes, informing the public and boycotting grapes. i knew this would be difficult to do as my family was nuts for grapes, especially the green ones. i guess he was touched by my tears, he approached me after his speech. he shook my hand, i apologized for the tears. he told me the tears would sprout someone of great ccommittment and great action. he told me to follow my heart.i went home and informed my papi & mami we would no longer buy california table grapes in support of the farmworkers. my mom balked, but she was a life-long teamster. “mami, it’s the united farmworkers’ union, founded by cesar chavez.” “oh, they’re a union” she responded. i told her that if union people didn’t support them who would? i was all of 18, still an innocent and i informed them i would stand in front of the local safeway asking people not to buy table grapes. neither was too happy as the store was in a really bad barrio. i didn’t care. so off i went each day at 4:45 to take my place with sign & homemade flyers in hand. two weeks passed. then my mami & papi showed up with two more signs and more flyers they had printed up somewhere. i was so embarrassed demanding to know what they were doing. since i was going to do this, they were too. mami had already talked to her union to ask they not buy table grapes to support the UFW and my dad no longer bought them. we had good responses and bad of course. when people would ignore me and walk passed my mami would get in their path and say “are you hard of hearing & blind? she’s talking to you, don’t be rude” with my papi standing behind her scowling. we did this for 5 or 6 months. i learned so much about myself, my parents and people. mostly i learned about cesar, a lesson i’ve never forgotton. RIP leader.