Category Archives: beliefs
Feliz Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe. Happy Virgin de Guadalupe Day.
In celebration, I created two desktop wallpapers of la Virgencita to choose from. They are completely free to download.
Select the wallpaper you like and click to enlarge.
Right click and select “Set as Desktop Background.
When you’re done, you can check out my post about the Virgin of Guadalupe from last year or go to the website of the Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe in Mexico to send a prayer to the Virgen de Guadalupe. All petitions sent through the website will be placed at the feet de Nuestra Señora in the temple that she asked to be built on Tepeyac. At mass each morning, the petitions are prayed for by clergy.
Que la Virgen morena les cuide, hermanos.
[Don't speak Spanish? No problem! Scroll down for the English translation!]
En un viaje reciente a una panadería mexicana, me di cuenta que habia una bolsa de agua con unos centavitos adentro colgada de la puerta. Al principio pensé que alguien estaba haciendo una broma y que el agua va a caer, pero cuando abrí la puerta, era obvio que la bolsa estaba atada muy segura. Mi segunda sospecha era que la bolsa de agua era resultado de una creencia popular de América Latina o de México – que era una superstición que tienen que ver con la prosperidad o la suerte.
Al salir de la tienda con una bolsa llena de conchas, marranitos y otros panes en la mano, le pregunté a Carlos si sabía algo al respecto. Carlos no estaba seguro, pero también sospechaba que era una creencia popular.
Una vez en casa, investigue para encontrar la respuesta. La repuesta – Esto en realidad no es una superstición cultural, sino cientifica! Resulta que la bolsa de plástico de agua colgada en una puerta es un repelente de moscas. Hay desacuerdo sobre cómo funciona realmente, pero muchos juran que funciona. No he visto ninguna mosca en la panadería mexicana, entonces vale la pena intentarlo. Tal vez ahora nuestras chanclas no tienen que usarse como matamoscas.
On a recent trip to a Mexican bakery, I noticed a bag of water with a few pennies in it hanging from the door. At first I thought someone was trying to play a practical joke and the water would spill, but when we opened the door, it was obvious that it was tied very securely. My next suspicion was that the bag of water was actually a Latin American or Mexican folk belief or superstition having to do with prosperity or luck.
Leaving the store with a bag full of conchas, marranitos, and other panes in hand, I asked Carlos if he knew anything about it. Carlos wasn’t sure but also suspected it was a folk belief.
Once home, I researched to find the answer. This is actually not cultural superstition, but science! It turns out the plastic bag of water hung on a door is a fly repellent. There is disagreement over how this actually works, but many swear that it does work. I didn’t see any flies at the Mexican bakery, so it’s worth giving a try. Maybe now our chanclas don’t have to double as fly swatters.
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“Someone wants to come stay with you,” Suegra teased us weeks ago, knowing that Carlos has sworn off allowing family to come visit after some not-so-good experiences.
“What are you talking about,” Carlos demanded.
Suegra smiled, enjoying the game.
“Someone very special is coming to stay here at the house. She wants to live here.”
“Well, you better tell her she can’t come… Who is it?” Carlos said.
“It’s a surprise,” she said.
“¡Mamá!” Carlos said losing patience, “I told you that you can’t keep inviting people here.”
Suegra giggled, which had a maddening effect on Carlos. How could she think this was funny? Had she seriously lost her mind? This is our house and she has no right to invite anyone without our permission. We don’t even have an extra bed! Last time she invited cousins to live with us temporarily and they ended up sleeping on the floor.
“¡Mamá!” Carlos said, now obviously angry, “You better tell whoever it is that they can’t come. I’m serious.”
Suegra finally confessed that the “guest” that wanted to come live with us was the Virgin of Guadalupe – more specifically, a statue she had been secretly making payments on. She explained that she was buying the statue “for the household” and that she had only one payment left before she could take her home.
Finding out it was a statue and not a person did not make me or Carlos any happier. Not only has Suegra been warned about not inviting people to visit, she has been warned about re-decorating our home. Gifting this statue “to the household” is her sneaky way of adding something to the general living area that quite frankly, we really don’t want.
This isn’t about religion, this is about boundaries. Suegra has once again crossed a line and knowingly, purposefully, broken rules, despite all of the compromises we’ve made to allow her to live with us. If she wanted to buy a statue that would fit in her bedroom – that’s her business – we turned a blind eye to her destruction of our third bedroom with her junk collecting – but the rest of the house – that’s where we draw the line. She has her own living room in El Salvador, which she is free to decorate as she chooses – this living room is ours.
Carlos assured me he would “take care of it.”
Days later, Suegra asked Carlos to take her to the store to make the final payment and pick it up. At the store they discovered the statue was broken because the person who delivered it hadn’t been careful with the box. Carlos breathed a sigh of relief, thinking the problem had taken care of itself. The merchant collected the pieces that had shattered into a bag and offered to sell it to Suegra half price – Suegra likes a good deal. She still wanted to bring the broken statue home.
An hour later I heard Suegra and Carlos struggling to bring it in the front door.
I put my head in my hands and took deep breaths to calm myself before coming out to see it.
The statue stood almost as tall as my 9 year old. As I could have guessed, Suegra didn’t get a simple, tasteful statue – but one with added touches, like two angels crowning the Virgin… Y con todo el respeto, it looks like something you’d buy at a dollar store.
La Virgen doesn’t look right to me. The original image has her looking down and to her right, a neutral expression on her face. This statue has her smiling silly, like the Mona Lisa. The apparent rush paint job has the Virgin and the angel holding her up, looking a little cross-eyed. Instead of a simple base, the statue stands atop a mound of puffy, white clouds.
Even after an earnest attempt to glue back whatever I could, there are still many pieces missing. The statue is overly-big, broken, faux-fancy in a way that makes it look cheap, and inaccurate.
I do not like the statue, at all, but I rearranged furniture in silence, biting my tongue, to make room for the Virgin – trusting that Carlos would take care of it.
The next day, Suegra invited friends to our living room to visit the statue. The day after that she invited more friends. She brought them before it and bragged about what a fantastic statue it is and how she generously gifted it to the household. All of this seemed very wrong. You don’t brag about the Virgin of Guadalupe. It isn’t for showing off.
On the third day, Carlos and I went out together and temporarily left the boys in Suegra’s care. While we were out, our older son texted me, “She’s being really weird. She’s making us watch her sing songs to the statue and then she was dancing around ringing bells. She won’t leave us alone. We’re just trying to watch TV and she’s ringing bells in our ears!”
That’s when I decided enough was enough.
“The statue can’t stay. Please, you need to take care of this. She needs to find space for it in her room or donate it to a church or something,” I told Carlos, feeling guilty for the position he was in, but angry for the position I had been put in as well.
Carlos wanted to avoid drama and tried to find a solution that would create the least amount, (because at least some would be inevitable.) Compromising yet again, I agreed we could move the statue to the garden outside. Suegra narrowed her eyes at me as we prepared the spot in the fenced-in backyard on the side of the house where no one, including myself, will see it. She didn’t dare say anything to my face, but the next day during an unrelated argument with Carlos behind the closed door of her bedroom, she spit the words out, making sure to say it loud enough that it would reach my ears.
“¡Sacaste la Virgen y entró el diablo!”
This was followed by other random attempts to induce guilt in Carlos – to manipulate him into doing what she wants. When guilt didn’t work, she tried her other favorite psychological warfare weapon, religious fear: “God will punish you for treating your mother this way!”
These tactics used to have their desired effect, but Carlos has grown a lot this past year. Carlos has come out of denial and admitted to himself that she is emotionally abusive, mentally unstable – that she is selfish – that she isn’t a very good mother. He isn’t afraid anymore that God will punish him for admitting this truth. He knows it isn’t his fault though she would have him believe it. Things have changed. Her words can’t hurt or control him like they once did. She’s like a cat that has been de-clawed – her swipes at him are harmless soft-padded paws, failing to dig deep and bring blood to the surface.
The statue stays outside. Suegra stays locked in her bedroom, praying that God will punish us.
[Today is Spanish Friday but I won't be translating my entire post to Spanish today. Instead I will offer some vocabulary and phrase translations of the Spanish that appears within the dialogue at the end of the post.]
“Is that a snake?”
It was too late to be going anywhere, but Carlos and I were in the car, pulling out of the driveway. The plan was to sneak out and get ice cream without the kids or Suegra tagging along. The headlights lit up something black and twisted by the side of the road near our mailbox.
“Nene, that’s just trash or something.”
“No.” He put the car in park and opened the door, “that’s a snake.”
I got out too, rolling my eyes. That big, black, twisted thing was just a trash bag or something. Where did he think we lived? The Amazon Rainforest? As if a snake that big would just be hanging out near our mailbox.
We walked up to the object. I carelessly walked closer to it than Carlos. The “piece of trash” slithered.
“Oh my God,” I said, backing up and standing behind Carlos, “it’s a snake!”
“I know,” he said, “I need a flashlight, I can’t see it well.” He started back towards the house, leaving me and the snake to entertain each other.
The snake started to move towards our house. I picked up a big rock and threw it in his path, but missed. I threw another rock which landed right in front of his nose. The snake reared back and opened his little mouth. I stood my ground, armed with another rock, freaked out but determined not to let it anywhere near the house, until Carlos returned with a flashlight and a broom, the kids and Suegra trailing behind.
Carlos uncoiled the snake with the broom and it became clear that it was at least 4 feet long and, venomous or not, aggressive. The original plan was to carry the snake on the broom over to the nearby woods but the snake did not cooperate, and instead made every attempt to come at us or go towards our house.
Suegra kept telling Carlos to throw it in the road so the passing cars could run over it.
“Ay! Dejala, hijo,” she pleaded, “Las culebras pueden tirar veneno a tus ojos y vas a quedar ciego!” (She must have seen an episode about spitting cobras on National Geographic en español.)
“I’m going to have to kill it,” Carlos said to me. We didn’t want to, especially not knowing if it was even dangerous, but we didn’t want to take the chance of it getting into our house and hurting the kids.
“Traigame algo por matarla,” Carlos said to no one in particular.
Suegra and our youngest son ran off for the house.
Suegra returned first… with a weed whacker.
“Mamá,” Carlos said, exasperated. “Cómo voy a matarla con eso?”
Our youngest son, an animal lover, came out of the house with the white bucket that Suegra uses for washing her chones.
“Can we just capture it?” he asked, holding out the bucket.
“Cipote!” she said, grabbing it from him, “No! Con mi cumbo, no!”
“Get the machete,” Carlos said. I went to our closet and got the machete.
All of the commotion attracted a crowd of gringo kids who had been playing flashlight tag or something in the neighbor’s yard.
“Dude, what’s going on?” one of the gringo kids said to my older son, seeing Carlos with the machete, looking like some sort of Salvadoran Crocodile Dundee.
“My Dad killed a snake,” my older son answered, his voice calm, as if this was a normal activity for our family.
I really wanted Carlos to ask me if I was alright after the whole snake thing went down so I could be silly and use a line from the movie, but he was too busy putting everything back in the shed that Suegra had thrown all over the yard when she had pulled out the weed whacker.
…but since it’s my blog, I’m going to pretend that he turned to me as he re-sheathed the machete.
“I’m always alright when I’m with you, Carlos.”
—Vocabulary for this post—
Nene – baby (term of endearment, from woman to man.)
Machete – A big ass knife
Suegra – mother-in-law
Culebra – Snake
Chones – Underwear
Ay! Dejala, hijo – Ay! Leave it, son
Las culebras pueden tirar veneno a tus ojos y vas a quedar ciego – Snakes can spit venom in your eyes and you’ll be left blind
Traigame algo por matarla – Bring me something to kill it
Mamá, Cómo voy a matarla con eso? – Mama, how am I going to kill it with this?
Cipote – kid/male child (Salvadoran slang)
No! Con mi cumbo, no! – No, not with my bucket! (“Cumbo” means container or bucket. Salvadoran slang.)
The most recent superstitious thing Suegra has brought into the house is this soap. She got this in El Salvador for Carlos.
The soap is supposed to bring you luck in whatever you need luck in, (in our case, dinero.) Carlos said he wasn’t sure he believed in it but proceeded to lather up anyway.
When I laughed at him, Carlos tried rubbing it on me.
“Hey, you better watch where you rub that,” I said.
“Well, I don’t know how it works but what if whichever body part you rub it on is the one that brings in money?” I said.
Carlos stopped rubbing the lucky soap on me after that.
Usually, I try not to laugh at things like this – I try to be respectful of other people’s beliefs, but some of them seem very strange and even silly, (though Suegra and Carlos think I have equally weird beliefs sometimes.)
Here are just a few of the beliefs I’ve encountered over the years while living with two Salvadorans.
I actually prefer the “silly” beliefs because the alternative is disturbing ones like the time I believe she tried to put a curse on me. I will never forget the time Suegra angrily moved out of our house. During that year that we were “disowned” I was cleaning the house and happened upon something which quite frankly kind of freaked me out.
When I dusted the top of the doorbell box high on the wall, I knocked something down. Whatever it was, it clattered to the floor. I reached down to pick it up and knew immediately that Suegra had something to do with it. It was a chicken bone and I really don’t know why she put it there. She may have put it there as a blessing on the house when we were on good terms – or, more likely, she may have put it there as a curse when she left. I still haven’t asked because I don’t want to stir up anything with her.
The reason I suspect Suegra is the one who put the chicken bone up there is because it’s just too strange for there to be any other explanation. After all, I already know some of her other beliefs, and this wouldn’t even be the strangest. For example, I know that there was a woman Carlos was involved with before he came to the United States. Suegra hated this woman and she told Carlos to stay away from her, but he wouldn’t. This is when Suegra became convinced that this woman had cast a spell on him by putting his photo in her underwear.
Luck & Wealth
Speaking of underwear, I mentioned before that she wears her own underwear inside out for luck.
When one of the children accidentally puts their shirt on inside out, Suegra announces that it’s “Día de San Antonio” and this is also good luck.
Rue plants likewise bring good luck.
A lot of her superstitions revolve around attracting good luck/money and discouraging bad luck/loss of money. She chides me for sweeping in the evening, (the household will lose money.)
Beliefs that don’t fall into the luck/money category, usually fall into the health category. She avoids quick changes in temperature. If she has been using her sewing machine she says her muscles are “hot” and so she won’t reach into the freezer to retrieve anything – (she has me do it instead.)
Carlos is also this way to some degree though he never explained it. When we first got married he’d come home from work and though he loves to be clean, he would always wait awhile before taking a shower – saying he wanted to rest first. Later I realized that this was part of that same belief. And now that I think about it, I wonder if when Carlos’s Mexican co-workers advised him not to have sex with the ceiling fan on, perhaps the hot/cold thinking is also why they believe that.
Other medical issues – “Empacho” is a gastrointestinal problem which Suegra believes can lead to death. She gets very worried about feeling bloated and will do everything from massaging her stomach to brewing various concoctions to cure it.
Sometimes Suegra also complains of having air trapped in the body. I don’t know if this has scientific merit or not. I don’t know if it has a specific name but she’ll say “Tengo aire” before pounding a fist against her back in an attempt to clear it out.
Suegra believes that if you point at a rainbow, you’ll make it disappear. Also, you should not watch a dog relieving itself or it will cause a sty on your eye.
Have you heard of “Tapa Boca” candles, or “Shut up” candles? If someone is gossiping about you, you light it and by the time it burns out, the person will be forced to stop talking about you. There are dozens of other similar candles for every imaginable problem as well.
In the end, living with Carlos and Suegra all these years has caused some of their creencías to rub off on me.
If the palm of my hand becomes itchy, my first thought is that I will soon come into money. And, if my ears are ringing, I assume someone is talking about me so I bite the tip of my tongue.
No matter how angry I get at someone though, I will not hide a chicken bone in their house.
Lately Suegra has been suffering from “empacho” … This illness has always confused and amused me – And Suegra is equally confused as to how it’s possible that gringos don’t believe in it, and usually have never even heard of it.
“Empacho” is a gastrointestinal illness that many people in El Salvador and other parts of Latin America believe can kill you. I decided to interview her about it for anthropological reasons because it doesn’t seem well documented.
Interview below, (in Spanish.)
Note: The use of the word “chibolitas” in Salvadoran Caliche means “little round objects” or “little balls.” (The word has other meanings in other parts of Latin America.)
(If interested in a translation to English, let me know in comments and I’ll see about transcribing it.)
A cute plump little Robin perched on the backyard fence. I watched him out the kitchen window as I washed breakfast plates off in the sink. Suegra appeared next to me.
“Ay, qué lindo, vá?” she said.
I nodded, turning off the water and drying my hands.
“¿Cómo se llaman esos pajaros de la garganta roja?” she asked.
“Robins,” I responded, accepting the loss of my quiet bird watching moment.
“Hay una historia de esos Robins,” she said, “No la conoces?”
I shook my head.
Suegra smiled, for she had a story to tell, and there are few things in the world that make her as happy as story telling.
“Bueno,” she began, “Cuándo Jesús se murio en la cruz, tenía bastante sangre, cómo los soldados estaban apuñalandolo…” she pauses to make sure I understand. I nod and she continues.
“Jesús tenía sangre por todos lados, y aquí en el pecho,” she says putting her hand slightly above her heart.
“Venía ese pajaro…el Robin, me dijiste, vá?… bueno, pero antes de este tiempo estaba sólo cafecito el pajaro. El Robin voló por el pecho de Jesús y posó allí…”
I smile because this is a sweet folktale…At this point I have assumed that the bird came to comfort Jesus, and for that, the blood colored his feathers red… but Suegra isn’t finished.
“Se posó en el pecho, y empezo a picar a Jesús—”
“Picar?!” I interrupt, “Pero yo pensé que este cuento sería algo más bonito… picar?! Qué feo salio el cuento…”
Suegra shrugs and walks away. When I look out the window, the cute little Robin has flown away.
Image: Elee Kirk
My youngest son wanted to buy a little toy and it was 2 for $1. He asked if he could buy 1 for 50 cents and they refused so he bought the toy he wanted and picked a little elephant for Suegra.
He went to Suegra and gave her the elephant and she smiled. “I will have good luck soon because of you,” she said in Spanish. My son smiled and walked away, probably not understanding her words but knowing she was happy.
“Why will you have good luck?” I asked.
She explained that in El Salvador some people believe if you have tres elefantes (three elephants), you will have luck – but the way in which you come to own the elephants is important.
“Uno comprado, uno regalado, y uno robado,” she says with a sly smile.
(One bought, one received as a gift, and one stolen.)
Knowing she has one elephant figurine in her room that she bought years ago, and now this one that my son gave her, I asked about the third.
“Do you have a stolen elephant?” I asked.
“No,” she said… “Not yet.”
Today our church celebrates Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, but the forecast is calling for freezing rain so it may be postponed or canceled since the Spanish-speaking priest comes in from out of the city. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t attend the service, because it’s the one I look most forward to each year.
Raised Protestant, the Catholic relationship with the Virgin Mary was something that I had difficulty understanding at first. Protestants do not adore her the way Catholics do. I also found it confusing that there seemed to be a lot of Virgins in the Catholic faith. There is the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, the Blessed Virgin, etc. I later learned that these are not different virgins – they are all the same Virgin Mary, (mother of Jesus). Some of the names are just describing her attributes, (such as Our Lady of Peace), and others are for locations where she appeared to people.
Years ago, during the course of writing one of my manuscripts, I needed to do research on the Catholic faith. While researching, I discovered the Virgin of Guadalupe, and fell in love. There is something about the Virgin of Guadalupe that intrigues me more than I can really put into words.
Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes once said, “…one may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe.” And Nobel Literature laureate, Octavio Paz, wrote, “The Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery.”
If you don’t know the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe, allow me to share it with you.
There once was an indigenous Mexican man named Juan Diego. (His birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, but Juan Diego was the name he took when Spanish bishops converted him to Christianity.)
Juan Diego was a widower who walked every Saturday and Sunday to church. When it was cold out he wore a cloak-like covering called a “tilma”, a common type of clothing for the people of his tribe. On one particular Saturday morning (December 9, 1531), on his way to church, Juan Diego claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin.
As he passed the hill at Tepeyac just outside of Mexico City he heard music and saw a light. A woman’s voice called him by name from the top of the hill, so he climbed up to see. Near the top he saw a beautiful young dark skinned woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She spoke to him in his native language (Nahuatl) and told Juan that she was the Virgin Mary.
The Virgin instructed Juan Diego to seek permission for a church to be built on that site and in return she would always care for the people there. Juan Diego did as he was told but the bishop asked for a sign to verify that what Juan Diego claimed had really happened.
Juan Diego returned to the hill and told the Virgin what the bishop had said. The Virgin then directed Juan Diego to go further up the hill and there he would find roses. He was instructed to gather the roses into his tilma. Juan Diego did as the Virgin instructed. (Remember it is winter time and roses would not have been blooming.) The Virgin then told Juan Diego to bring the roses to the bishop.
Not only was the bishop surprised by the roses because they were not in season but these particular roses were also not native to Mexico. These roses were native to his homeland (Spain). And then as Juan Diego emptied the roses from his tilma, it revealed an amazing image of the Virgin.
Juan Diego’s tilma with the image still exists today. It is on display at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. This is considered yet another miracle because Juan Diego’s tilma is made from the coarse fibers of the maguey cactus. A fabric of this type should have deteriorated after 20 years. (It has been in good condition for almost 500 years and examined by many scientists who can find no explanation.)
For those who take a more cynical view, there are theories that the Catholic church made all this up just to convert the native peoples of Mexico.
Today, many of those faithful to the Virgin of Guadalupe pray to her and ask miracles. Many claim she has healed them or loved ones from incurable illnesses. Some make promises to the Virgin in return for answered prayer. On the day of celebration for the Virgin of Guadalupe, some will walk on their knees, (some for miles), to her altar in gratitude and devotion.
Our church usually assembles in the street with mariachi at sunrise to sing “Las Mañanitas” to La Virgen. After misa, there is a procession and a traditional desayuno of pozole, tamales and champurrado.
I hope we will be able to go, but here are photos from last year.
Today my friend Juan of JuanOfWords.com, wrote about faith. (I encourage you to click over and read it.)
“I recently tried to blog about this but the post sits in my drafts because it ended cynically and I don’t like to spread negativity if possible. Faith has never been easy for me but unlike you, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found it more difficult.
Not having that belief that “everything happens for a reason” and is part of a bigger plan – that there is someone in charge up there that knows what is going on even when it looks like chaos from down here – having the unsettling feeling that we’re on our own, doesn’t feel good.
Faith is not something that can be bought or forced. If it could be, I’d spend good money to stock up on it just for the comfort it can provide.
The natural optimist in me won’t go down that easily though. There’s a tiny spark of hope that I’m wrong. My heart and mind are in constant battle over this… I’ve had to accept this, and accept that my definition of faith isn’t the solid kind some are lucky enough to stand on. My faith is something fleeting that I must constantly chase.”
As a result, Juan encouraged me to finish this post and hit the publish button… and so here it is – a post that otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
“It’s not fair!” … These three words of indignation are one of the first phrases we learn as children. We shout it at our parents with a stamp of our foot when we’ve been denied something we want and it’s thrown around on school playgrounds across the nation as much as those bouncy red balls.
“It’s not fair!” was a phrase that was especially easy for me to employ as a middle child. With an older sister who was granted more freedoms and a little sister who was bestowed more mercy, there was plenty to find unfair, and maybe because of my birth order, it’s easy for me to perceive injustice, whether it’s done to myself, someone I love, or a complete stranger.
“It’s not fair!” I’d shout, and my wise mother would calmly respond, “Life’s not fair.”
Middle children are called “peace-makers”, (as well as “trouble-makers”, but that’s another story.) … We are accustomed to being sandwiched in the middle seat of a hot station wagon. We know what it’s like when one person is taking more than their fair share, (“Mom! She’s touching me!”)… and I guess that affects our view on the world. We like to make things fair, for ourselves and for others, and there are few things more frustrating than when the power to do that is completely out of our hands.
Eventually that frustration has to become something. It festers like an infected wound. It can become discontent, depression, cynicism. I look out at the world and increasingly find myself disappointed with the lack of fairness, and unable to shake it off as I used to. When I was younger, I’d wrap myself up in optimism. Close my eyes and think happy thoughts until my short attention span managed to be distracted and occupied by something full of fluffy goodness. People living in poverty… It’s so unfair… Ooo! Cake on a stick!
These days it seems there isn’t enough cake on a stick in all the world to make me forget the unfairness that is life. This is when many people will lean on their faith. The belief that there is a higher power, that it all happens for a reason, that someone up there is looking out for us – it is comforting. Like a child at the beach who walks deeper and deeper into the waves, looking over his shoulder every once in awhile to make sure his mother is there to run to him and pull him out when the tide gets too rough.
But what if you don’t have that sort of faith? Those with an abundance of faith may see it as a willful rebellion, but I can assure you, it is not. We are all gifted different gifts, and resigned to accept certain flaws. A doubting mind, a mind that questions, a mind that can not be shut off, is one of those things many of us would trade in a heartbeat. There is no comfort in looking back at the shore and seeing that no one is watching over us as we feel the sand slip beneath our toes.
So, with a lack of strong faith, and an increasingly cynical world view, where does that leave me? Should I simply accept this as my new reality? Am I capable of waking each morning knowing that I’ll encounter injustices in this world that I can do nothing about?
I began writing this without knowing where I would finish it. Something in my heart demands that I dig down deep and find that fluffy goodness that makes everything okay again, but I don’t want to be trite. I don’t want to pretend that there is always a happy ending. For myself, maybe I can truthfully say that so far life has demonstrated to me time and time again, that everything happens for a reason – but it’s not fair for me to say it’s a universal truth. It’s not fair for me to speak on behalf of others who may not see their reality that way.
(Image source: Libertinus)