Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day following

The earthquake hit here at 3:40 in the morning on Friday, February 27th. It hit the epicenter as an 8.8, moved up north, and hit here as a 7.

The south is devastated. It is bad in Valparaíso near here.

All in my community are fine.

Please, please, pray for the pueblo chileno.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wind in my Praying

Part of the response to a friend who emailed and mentioned that I seemed to be really in "it" here...meaning the experience and the living.

Yes, I guess you could say that I am in "it" here, but I still go "there" as well.... and sometimes my heart doesn´t know where to go and just takes off, lighting on images and faces and memories and places all around the world. A in India, C and I in Brasil, I in France, L in Indonesia, M in Canada, folks in various places in Mexico, all over the US, S in Japan, all over Chile, L in PR, memories of England, images from the news, Haiti, NOLA, SF Xavier in NYC, the schools where I have been, years and years of dear and wonderful friends, people who have passed through the community.... Often I walk with beads and let each one be a name, a place, a face, an image, praying. If not beads, then with a flip of the stone I carry in my is just the size and roundness and smoothness to fit in my hand and turn over with a scootch of the fingers of that hand.

At the same time, I like it when my heart goes free like that--to feel wind in my praying... and there is also a desire to be grounded too.... the grounding is what lets the other happen with such joy. And wow, to think that the grounding is God and hope and love that I know in the here and now...

Friday, February 19, 2010

From the Journal or, Driving in English

An excerpt from yesterday´s journal entry, after the visit to the National Library of Chile (click here to read ). Point to note before reading, since September, my journal entries have been 98% in Spanish. For reasons that are difficult to explain, it is easier for me to do it that way... otherwise, there is a sort of freeze-up in the brain when trying to think in one language and being surrounded by another, both of which I understand.

6:10 pm. In the dining room with a fortifying, strong mug of tea. A prize for having finished a slice of whole wheat pan de molde and a wedge of unripe avocado. I have come to really enjoy this civil ritual of afternoon tea--there is something so balanced about it. So balanced and pleasing, in fact, that I shall do what five months ago would have been unthinkable, and double-dunk. Two cups, one bag. I must also add here, while the steeping is in process, that it is a genuine pleasure to be writing in English for an entry.

The best I can do is liken it to slipping behind the wheel of a car you have detailed and cared for--a car who purrs for you, who knows your touch and style and responds with fluidity and throttle. A car you shift seamlessly, feeling the potential of the engine, feeling the smooth thrill of low-seated velocity, the slope of a curve well taken. A car that seems in perpetual idle, waiting for the driver and an open highway, or blank page, so it can do its thing--both what it was meant to do, and what it and the driver learned it could do when patience, capacity, and a certain marvel for mechanics meet.

From Humitas to Gabriela and the Greeks

It has been some weeks since last posting. There are several reasons for that, but they don´t seem so important to mention right now. Let me just say that I am glad to be back at the keyboard, finding a way to share with a crowd the insights and adventures that come my way in this wild and wonderful life.

Humitas. Sounds like something Latin, to me. On the one hand, it reminds me of the word humble. It also makes me think of humus, the rich soil that is good for growing. The reality actually combines both of those things. I learned about humitas during three days in the Chilean countryside with the large and welcoming campesina family of one of my sisters. These days followed two weeks of meetings with the entire province in a retreat house outside Santiago and were a welcome break from that level of engagement. They were days filled with delicious, simple, incredible food. Tomatoes, corn, raspberries, peaches, chicken, honey, watermelon, ají, onions, basil...all straight from the earth to the mouth. So very juicy and flavorful! So incredibly delicious. One morning I was invited to help in the preparation of what would become lunch. Yes, humitas.

Humitas are the Chilean version of tamales. One group of people shucked the corn, one group sliced the corn from the cob, I helped hand grind the corn into, well, corn-paste, and another group diced and cooked mountains of onion. Onions and cornpaste are mixed together and the leaves of corn are stuffed with the mixture and folded into little packets, tied with thin strips of wicker from the garden that have been boiled into strong, flexible, string. The packets are dropped into boiling water to cook.

While this process was going on outside, some folks inside were preparing various tomato-based chunky salsas to spoon on top. Chancha de piedra involves peeled tomatoes and garlic in a mortar, mashed into goodness with a pestle. Pebre is diced tomato, ají pepper, cilantro, garlic, and onion or chive, all dancing cheek to cheek.

A little of either one of these on top of the steaming packet of corn-onion perfection, and you have a delicious, fresh, healthy, flavorful party going on in your mouth!

From Pelarco in the country, I came to Santiago in the city this past Monday. I will be here until Sunday. My time has been filled with sleep, finding a knee brace (according to the doctor, I have a nasty sprain--and all I did was stand up to get off the bus, honest. Swelling, funky looking muscles, the whole nine. Getting better, though, thank goodness) and going to some museums.

One day was a trip to see the terracotta soldiers from China, one day the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos--The Museum of Memory and Human Rights. The latter chronicles the dictatorship here in Chile and what happened, or didn´t, as far as human rights during that period. It also has sections on Human Rights around the world. An amazing and humbling expose of the atrocities and the desire that they never happen again.

Yesterday, I went to the National Library of Chile! It is such a library! A techy, papery, booky, marbley, monument to learning and scholarship. Part of my time there was spent in the Gabriela Mistral Sala de Lectores, writing, describing, observing. Funny thing with Gabriela. There she is in the center window nook, overlooking all in the room. To her right and left are other busts...Virgil, Homer, Demosthenes, Voltaire.

I thought it a funny combination, actually. But still, was glad for her company and watchful presence as I sat there in a sunbeam, in my wooden swivel chair at the green-felt and glass topped wooden tables. If I tilted my head just so and closed my eyes, I could almost hear her saying "Bienvenida compañera, escritora..."

"Welcome, fellow writer."