Sunday, 16 October 2011

New Life in the Old Pueblo

Leticia, Manolo, and The Star of the Show
They are Flor and Angeles, Hilario and Feliciano, Segundino and Angel and Manolo. The sisters are small and slender and fond of flashy fashions.
The brothers are short and portly, with spectacular smiles.
They share the same cheekbones and chins. They are fair enough to pass for Irish, but they´re Castilian to the bone.
Seven sisters and brothers, they grew up in Moratinos and still work together on their parents´ homestead. This weekend they gathered into the corner house on the plaza mayor with all their children, spouses, aunts, and uncles – 29 people altogether.
This is not unusual out here in the pueblo. Big families were the norm, right up to the 1980s.
It is not unusual that Igor, one of the sons of this family, a couple of years ago married Leticia, a daughter of the family who lives on sunny weekends in the house next door to ours. And this afternoon the vast assortment of friends and relations on both sides, and both ends of town, donned their Sunday clothes and descended on the church for the baptism of Asier, the much-anticipated firstborn great-grandchild.
The church was mopped and dusted and decked with flowers. The bell rang, and Angel and Pin set off sky  rockets. The 90-something great-grandparents – a bisabuela and a bisabuelo who now live in care-homes far away – gloried in their front-row seats, their faces radiant to see their old village and neighbors again.
The parents stood at the font, a 700-year-old stone cup that´s tucked under the stairs, and offered up their offspring to a Christian life. The baby was duly sprinkled with holy water, and shed not a tear.
Igor and Leticia were baptised at this font. Their mothers were, too, and Leticia´s mother´s father, and who knows how much farther back. Baptisms didn´t used to be so special.
This is the first baptism here for a good six years, Leandra told me.
At the turn of the 20th century, 120 people lived in Moratinos. The young men and maidens grew up together and married one another at this altar, then baptized their children at this font. They knelt here to receive their first communions, and turned up for Sunday Mass and rosary prayers if they were one of the respectable families. And when they died, their families gathered into the church to mourn. The church is still the heart of Moratinos, but these special events are landmarks, remarkably rare.
And so it was, back 20 generations or more, a thousand years. And so it continues, just not nearly so often. Not when the population stands at 21 souls, all of them over age 40.
We spilled out of the church into an Indian summer afternoon. Manolo and Flor and Angel threw out handfuls of candy, and old and young scrambled like gulls to snatch up the goodies. The families stood on the church steps and smiled for the cameras.
The sun was brilliant, the smiles luminous.
From there on the steps of the church you could almost hear Moratinos´ heartbeat. 
proud family
more of everybody
the whole crowd, except photographers


Kerry said...

Thank you for this lovely blog. My partner and I have talked about walking the camino since we met at Union seminary in New York City. We took a long trip to Thailand and mostly India to visit Christian ashrams and christened ourselves "sisters of the holy road."
I'm so ready for another pilgrimage, I often cry when reading about the Camino, but it seems too commercial and "world traveller" oriented, at least on the French part. Is another way (another world) possible?

And on the Peaceable Kingdom, do you know that Hicks painted that one theme all his life, the animals aging, becoming more sad and his Society of Friends bickered and broke into factions. It is then beautiful to see his last version, with its expanse of sky more wide than the creatures, the children running, and yet quiet, distinct, luminous.
blessings on all our ways,
Kathryn Poethig said...

Another world IS possible, indeed it is here with us! The camino is calling your name, and it won´t leave you alone til you come and encounter it yourself. The only thing you can be sure of: It will NOT meet your expectations.
When you come, you must stop here. I like the way you think.

Kerry said...

Yes, we will come by your pueblo! Would love to read your book.

What first caught my eye was the blog at the convent, all of you reflecting on the way the camino has changed. And yet it seems that it is now even more powerful - calling us out of our stupors. Everyone is longing for a mystical experience, a way to the holy, awe.

Here's my awe: I was just reading about Voyager 1, our interstellar pilgrim 30 years on its journey into 'outer space.' (What is *outer* space?) It's far far out on the edge of our little solar system, in 2004 past the termination shock, the heliosheath, into the heliopause, and soon (who knows when) bracing to cross the boundary of our system into the interstellar winds. When you go outside some night, look up and imagine it out there, the first little thing we've sent out that far.

I teach Global Studies in the Cal State University system, and my students, now occupying Monterey SF and the campus, are mostly preoccupied with their electronic life. In the class world religions and social issues, we talked about cellphones as a craving. The first Noble Truth: cellphones are dukkha दुक्ख. The 99%'s lust for the goods that 1% provides.

Peace be to you at the end of Ordinary Time.