Posada at Pinal Villa

A friend sent me a message the other day that said: there are three choices in life, give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got.

Very true, I reflected as I glanced at the beautifully dressed kids last Saturday afternoon at Pinal Villa. ‘Este rincón’ – this corner – where I worked with Leonardo, a young Mixteca man, was just outside the gate of the compound……our job consisted of greeting the visiting families from the community and writing their names down on individual tickets. The place hummed with earnest energy and an air of exuberance – the mood was high. It was a beautiful afternoon and the skies shone bright and clear and warm, and I could see, even from my ‘rincón’, that the party was running smoothly because the volunteers, both new ones and regulars, were giving it all they had.

if there is any enchantment in good people working together in friendly companionship, they made strong magic that day. I believe, though, that it was more a mundane matter ie. Dr. Rosa and her volunteers organizing a well orchestrated event, toiling over the program, finding special people for different jobs, in short, giving it everything they had. It was easy to forget this, being there, and that sometimes great events swing on modest hinges. Such was this posada, an obvious success.

At the beginning of the program, under bright blue skies, we sang a traditional posada song, one whose imagery has been hallowed by long tradition in the Catholic Church. There were song sheets, ensuring my interest as well as most people there. Some of the gathering were placed outside the gate ( afuera ) with Miguel and his guitar, and others were inside ( adentro ); it was an enactment of the Mary/Jose/baby Jesus story in which ‘La Reina del Cielo’ can find no room in the inn. As a Spanish teacher I scrutinized the language on the sheet, wondering if there might be a lesson there….we are ‘peregrinos’, pilgrims, finding our way in ‘este rincón de la tierra.’ Characteristically ‘la reina del cielo’ was referred to frequently in the song, not Dr. Rosa exactly who incidentally dresses in pure white……but wait, my faulty image of the Virgin kept being replaced by Dr. Rosa with a floppy straw hat…..como es que de noche anda tan solita? When we finished the song, Miguel (singer/teacher/entertainer) led the outside group into the gate, and then it was piñata time. But I was still thinking about the song, and it came to me that while I was singing, watching the ring of faces, their eyes like sparks as the song kindled and took light in their souls – it came to me that the way to people’s souls was through their hearts, not through their mInds. Stories and songs are the language of the heart.

My husband and I left before the pozole was dished up while there were still volunteers clapping, kids dancing and happy parents laughing. The sunset which is always so beautiful at Pinal Villa had been extraordinary, the sky gold and orange, intensified with bright purple hues…and the light…oh, the light! The light is sometimes found in unlikely places. This corner of the earth, and not for the first time, had been awash with light. Was it telling me, a lonely wanderer like so many there, to watch the high heaven perform its inscrutable works and see the shapes of possibility taking place there? I like to think so.

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Posada at Pinal Villa

A friend sent me a message the other day that said: there are three choices in life, give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got.

Very true, I reflected as I glanced at the beautifully dressed kids last Saturday afternoon at Pinal Villa. ‘Este rincón’ – this corner – where I worked with Leonardo, a young Mixteca man, was just outside the gate of the compound……our job consisted of greeting the visiting families from the community and writing their names down on individual tickets. The place hummed with earnest energy and an air of exuberance – the mood was high. It was a beautiful afternoon and the skies shone bright and clear and warm, and I could see, even from my ‘rincón’, that the party was running smoothly because the volunteers, both new ones and regulars, were giving it all they had.

if there is any enchantment in good people working together in friendly companionship, they made strong magic that day. I believe, though, that it was more a mundane matter ie. Dr. Rosa and her volunteers organizing a well orchestrated event, toiling over the program, finding special people for different jobs, in short, giving it everything they had. It was easy to forget this, being there, and that sometimes great events swing on modest hinges. Such was this posada, an obvious success.

At the beginning of the program, under bright blue skies, we sang a traditional posada song, one whose imagery has been hallowed by long tradition in the Catholic Church. There were song sheets, ensuring my interest as well as most people there. Some of the gathering were placed outside the gate ( afuera ) with Miguel and his guitar, and others were inside ( adentro ); it was an enactment of the Mary/Jose/baby Jesus story in which ‘La Reina del Cielo’ can find no room in the inn. As a Spanish teacher I scrutinized the language on the sheet, wondering if there might be a lesson there….we are ‘peregrinos’, pilgrims, finding our way in ‘este rincón de la tierra.’ Characteristically ‘la reina del cielo’ was referred to frequently in the song, not Dr. Rosa exactly who incidentally dresses in pure white……but wait, my faulty image of the Virgin kept being replaced by Dr. Rosa with a floppy straw hat…..como es que de noche anda tan solita? When we finished the song, Miguel (singer/teacher/entertainer) led the outside group into the gate, and then it was piñata time. But I was still thinking about the song, and it came to me that while I was singing, watching the ring of faces, their eyes like sparks as the song kindled and took light in their souls – it came to me that the way to people’s souls was through their hearts, not through their mInds. Stories and songs are the language of the heart.

My husband and I left before the pozole was dished up while there were still volunteers clapping, kids dancing and happy parents laughing. The sunset which is always so beautiful at Pinal Villa had been extraordinary, the sky gold and orange, intensified with bright purple hues…and the light…oh, the light! The light is sometimes found in unlikely places. This corner of the earth, and not for the first time, had been awash with light. Was it telling me, a lonely wanderer like so many there, to watch the high heaven perform its inscrutable works and see the shapes of possibility taking place there? I like to think so.

What Does it Profit…..?

Oscar Wilde once wrote that by 40 we all have the faces we deserve.

The hidden dimensions of our human lives, or our ‘faces’, is not visible to others – it applies to that which lies within, to the heart, and not merely to one’s face as a surface feature of one area of the body. At least that’s the way I interpret his remark.

We probably do deserve the faces we carry with us!

I thought about this as I followed Dr. Rosa last Sunday when the aubergue at Pinal Villa was open to the public.. What prevents even well-intentioned, thoughtful people from seeing what is simple and straightforward – that there is much to give those less fortunate – and others, like Dr. Rosa and her group of volunteer ‘green berets’, ready to initiate, create and bring about what did not exist a few years ago, as well as sustain remarkable harmony among the disparate groups, a migratory and indigenous people, a few gringos and a warrior queen of a doctora, alive in power and goodness.

Dr. Rosa is beautiful on the outside as well. I would do well to study her, not because there’s any hope of acquiring any of her features at my age, but because of her spirit, or the core of who and what she is as an individual. I watched her struggle under a barrage of questions that day as shifting emotions flitted across her pretty face in an effort to answer her inquisitors graciously, and I realized it was no straightforward matter at all, this huge effort of hers to cure and educate this community of people, but something complicated, the exercise of her will and well-trained spirit, carefully guarded. Where others are content to simply drift through life, or set their hearts on too many things and give themselves over to exteriors, some cultivate the life ‘within’ and devote themselves to removing barriers to love. Like Dr. Rosa and her troops who, as far as they have their eyes on what counts, sustain something that is good.

A light comes into darkness, and darkness loses.

Who can earnestly care to be left out of what is going on there? Who could ever want to be on the losing side?