Sunday, July 14, 2013

"not conformed to this world"~about Camino La Mancha

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     As much as I enjoy walking, I have always enjoyed dancing. It's part of my cultural upbringing. Family celebrations were always highlighted by beautiful, colorful Salsa, the highly energized Afro-Caribbean music of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. At weddings, holidays, our daughters' Quinceañeras and spontaneous gatherings, even guests who were troubled with shyness or painful joints danced effortlessly when the music began to play. There was only room for smiles and laughter. Many times, we turn on the Salsa here at home and dance. I dance "the merengue", a Salsa dance.
      During one year, my life was repeatedly stained by the deaths of people close to me. For me, each death was so unexpected. I felt spiritually assaulted. La Mancha, "the stain", is the concept that arose within my psyche in response to the number of deaths that bombarded my spirit that year. I was rocked by prior deaths and losses which attached themselves to my heart each time a loved one passed. Death's ruthless unpredictability and inevitability were blinding headlights to my soul. I felt disoriented in my spiritual walk. The Holy Spirit synchronized my innermost steps as naturally as a Salsa dance partner. So, I began to walk "the stain". 
¡I Walk the Stain~Camino la Mancha!
     While my Papi was dying at our family home far away, one of the most influential women in my life was there. She posessed an inner, peaceful, unshakeable joy that permeated and transcended people and events around her. She had a gentle, calming smile and sweet laughter. Her laugh was like Salsa - a dance for the soul. As my Papi was slipping away from this life, she was there, among our family and closest friends. Her gentle presence had a special glow to it - just like the beautiful white rose floral arrangement she and her husband brought to us. I remember being taken aback by the serene beauty of the white roses. Their tranquil sweetness was a balm for the bitter pangs of death. Those roses were an encapsulation of her personality - steady, peaceful, surpassing heartbreak and tears with a persistent glow of sweetness. A lifelong friend of my parents, I always thought of her as my aunt although were were not biologically related. Her smile and warm laughter were always a reference point for me at times when turbulent events soured the flavor of my life. By the way, her culinary skills were nothing less than amazing! Being in her presence was always comforting. Imagine the sorrow of both of our families when she returned home to Jesus only three months after my Papi! I was greatly saddened that distance and expense prevented me from traveling home again to mourn her death with family and friends. 
      Staying in touch with loved ones, especially at these times, can be difficult. We may become unavailable to each other when we most need mutual comfort. Keeping busy masks what we feel. It's just too painful. Grief can be complicated. The stinging inflammation of old losses is rekindled with each new loss.
      I digress. Please forgive me. 
"La Mancha~The Stain" is the name I assigned to the inescapable losses in my life, past present and future. "La Mancha~The Stain" is something I can wrap my head around. It is tangible. I can emotionally "work with" it. A stain can have any hue, texture, depth, flavor, sound, rhythm or fragrance. It can transformed into colorful paintbrush strokes on the canvas of my days. In the right light, "the stain" of death might be a beautiful portrait of the soul's gentle, lovely, glorious emergence into the Beatific Vision. Death's shadows may obscure my view, but mine is the freedom to hope in Christ's victory over death!
     In my daily prayers, my soul recalls the joyful, uplifting qualities of each loved one who has passed on. The Holy Spirit strengthens my heart to embrace their spiritual encouragement. This also helps me to endure the anguish of perpetual losses which I face daily. I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father has allowed me to experience the immense love of all of these people in my life.
     So, as I dance the merengue~bailo el merengue, as well: 
¡I Walk the Stain~Camino la Mancha!
When life's events leave me wondering what to do,  
I try to rely on the advice of Saint Paul to the Romans:
"I beseech yo therefore, brethren,  by the mercy of God, 
that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing, your reasonable service
And be not conformed to this world, 
but be reformed in the newness of your mind 
that you may prove what is the good and the acceptable
 and the perfect will of God."  
Romans 12:1-2
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible

¡Muchísimans Gracias~Dios te Bendiga!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

May Our Dear Father in Heaven...

have mercy on our country.