This past Tuesday, December 8th, was the feast day of la Purísima Concepción in El Zape, Durango, home of my parents and grandparents.
Tomorrow, December 12th, will be the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe all over the Americas and the rest of the world, but especially in México.
In many of our homes and lives, that gangster dark-skinned woman (oh yes, she was most definitely gangster and most definitely dark-skinned and beautiful) with so many names and titles and stories, etc., has held a special place.
When I had first read about Mary telling Jesus to do something even though he didn’t want to do it (the wine had run out for goodness sake) I thought, “Dang, Mary had rank.”
Her prayer in Luke, what is known as her canticle, the Magnificat, etc., is amazing and revolutionary. She also knew her heart would be pierced from day one and that she would suffer the brutal loss of her own child. For these reasons and so many more, people all over the world identify with her and love her.
But in these Americas, she is also loved for very specific and distinct reasons, which so many of us know and hold dear. Even despite the ways in which the Eurocentric and patriarchal Catholic and Christian world has so often scoffed at, misunderstood, minimized, patronized, tried to co-opt, etc., these in-breaking revelations of God to the least of these in our dear Americas.
As a child I had often seen our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc., pray the rosary by our bedsides or alone at their kitchen tables and beds. Those images will never leave me.
I remember wanting to know why though, so I had asked my Nana one day. And she broke it down, saying basically that a mother’s love is so deep, has so much rank, that it never ceases nor loses its power to intercede to the big G on our behalf.
So one day at night as a child, I remember I was so enraged and sad that I was shaking. And I kept asking God to help me, and nothing would happen. So I remembered what Nana had said, I remembered what I had seen so many of our elders do, and right then I asked Mary to send word to the big G that I need help, and I need it now.
And slowly a deep warmth came over me, a deep stillness and peace that I had never felt before nor could ever really explain. But it happened. And I knew it was God’s presence. And all I could think of before going asleep was damn, they were right, a mother’s love is a mother’s love…
Now, why was so I upset and sad? It was because of the screams that I could hear from outside my window. The screams of women. They were screams so loud and deep, that all I could think of was them and their suffering, and that no one was helping them, and that their suffering had no end. I had wanted so bad to help them but knew I couldn’t.
I can still hear those screams. They are remnants and reminders of the nightmare which women and others are still made to experience in their daily lives by people they know and people they don’t know.
But there have been other remnants and reminders, of that stillness and peace. And it has come through struggle. The struggle for a true peace which means freedom, justice, equality, safety, etc., for the most left out and brutalized of our communities and families. And I have been happy to see women and many other of our “othered” people rising, all over the Americas and beyond. There are so many examples all over the world, but they can be seen right here too, in our homes and communities, in our neighborhoods and families, and in our selves. They are subjects not objects, and agents of every aspect of their lives.
The other day I was able to walk with some of them in Chicago, and stand with them during an action. And they stated that they are Black and Brown women, queer and trans, centering and operating out of their respective lens, and unapologetically so. The people who are rising up right now in Chicago and in many other parts of the country and world will not fall back, they are making it unequivocally clear that they will no longer accept violence in its so many forms. From anyone. We can hear them in our streets and homes, in our work, worship places, in all our public and private spaces: “ya me canse”, “no more.” We can hear their songs, their beautiful songs: “we who believe in freedom will not rest” and so many more. And the nightmares are transformed into dreams, the dreams of new realities taking hold.
If there are people who are left out of the table of life and freedom, then I don’t want to sit at that table. If there are people who are invited to that table, not to eat but only to serve and support, then I don’t want to eat.
I will go and sit and eat outside with the others, even if it’s just crumbs, and we will be at peace and at ease. And we will be free. Because love is love.
The people who are rising are making it clear that the uninvited, despised, cast out, instrumentalized, brutalized, silenced, disposed of, etc., are now building and preparing new tables, and making sure that everyone has a place, that no one is left out. And everyone will sit and eat and be full. Because we were created whole and deserve to live as such.
The building of this new world is a special task. And despite the difficulties and nightmares that exist, the fruits and signs of a true peace are real. It is in the struggle, in the accompaniment, in the actual loving of each other and saying no to all that is not love, where this new world is palpable. And I have been happy to be able to witness and participate in this in-breaking love.
As these feast days remind us, in Mary a mother’s love mirrors the love of God, which is manifested uniquely for those among us who suffer and are denied the fullness of life. At the centers of resistance and struggle for life, love is a presence and a force. Chills run through me when I hear the songs and chants lately: “I believe that we will win!”, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains!”
As we accompany each other throughout this journey of building a new world, how wonderful it is to know that we also have cosmic companionship. Our in-breaking love mirrors God’s in-breaking love, and becomes one. I am thankful for the recent struggles and peoples rising, most especially the Black and Brown women, queer, trans, and undocumented people all over the Chicago region. Let us continue to love each other, to let each other know that our lives do matter and have immense worth, and to work towards freedom and the fullness of life for all.