April 24 Sunday-April 28 Thursday Turtle Bay, Mexico
I am not religious, but I am foremost a spiritual being in a human body, and churches of any denomination nurture my spirit. I have made it a point to sit quietly in churches in Mexican towns I’ve visited and absorb their beauty and nurture my spirit. I have not been to a church service since I left Seattle last July, and Christmas and Easter passed by unnoticed. Here on RD the mast and spreaders are my spiritual cross.
Thus I dressed up a bit and attended the 11 am service at the local church. The tallest building in any town reflects the values of its people, and the Catholic church on the hill stands tall and prominent above all else.
My heritage is Protestant Congregationalist so I know little of Catholic rituals, and even less Spanish language. Thus the intended message eluded me, but I followed the congregation in sitting, standing, listening, greeting, kneeling, singing, kneeling, prayer — and in putting some pesos in the collection plate.
This town has been ravaged by five hurricanes in the past several years, and the church stands on the hill exposed to the winds. Additionally dust is everywhere. Yet the church is immaculate and free of dust and a single storm mark. (Only one other place in town is free of dust — the baseball field).
The priest lectures; mothers try to keep babies from crying; young children quixotically wonder their neighboring isle, and a couple of owner-less dogs wander in — to get their ears scratched or a spiritual fix. After the service there is a bake sale and opportunity to purchase toys and trinkets.
Suddenly it is all too familiar. The same thing is going on today in the white clapboard Congregational Church that Gail and I attended on Sundays in Old Lyme, Ct. before she passed on.
In life and death, though often unrecognized, we are all one.
The remainder of my day is taken up with a long walk around town and reflections on the contrast between the poverty and the light-hearted happiness of the citizens. For an American it is remarkable that poverty an happiness can peacefully co-exist. Indeed Mexican village people everywhere are kind, communal, sharing, laugh easily and live happily. Perhaps we have something important to learn.