Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Letter to Maria Lucia

I originally published this letter
in a blog that I have since dismantled. 

Juan Diego was a widower.
He and has wife,
Maria Lucia,
were converts to faith.
I wrote this letter
to her.


- Rubi.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

April 16, 2009

My Dearest Maria Lucia,

I have, so very often,
thought of writing you this letter.
To be honest,
I do not know what has kept me
from such an important task.

I have thought of you
often throughout my life.
You, my dear Maria Lucia,
are one of those women
who inspire me beyond measure.

It sometimes saddens me
that people forget you existed.
Why is that?
Why do people chose to remember
only certain things,
only certain people?

It seems as though some consider you
optional to the story,
optional to history,
optional to Salvation history.
But I know well
that you are not
an optional woman.

And why do people opt you out?
Could it be
because you are not a biblical character?
Or is it because you are not canonized?
Why do people forget you?

Like Coyolxauhqui,
the aztec moon goddess,
some important women
are buried and forgotten,
buried deeper and deeper
with the passage of time.
But being forgotten
is a worse fate
than Coyolxauhqui
having been murdered
and dismembered by her younger brother.

Why do people choose to forget
those who were enslaved
to build the cathedral of Mexico City?

You know,
in today’s modern world
if we were to destroy
someone else’s house of worship,
well let me just say
that it is a horrifying thing.
destroy their house of worship
and then force them to build a church
out of the ruins of their temple?
It is an ugly history
but it is real.
And yet,
Christianity tends to forget
that she did the very same thing
to you,
to your sacred temples.
Christianity recalls the miracle of Tepeyac
because it is, in fact, a miraculous story.
But she tries to erase,
she tries to bury where and how
she dismembered
those who were here before her.

Why do people choose to forget
the barbaric way the indigenous were slaughtered,
but manage to remember aztec human sacrifices?
The thing is
there was human sacrifice.
And it was all in the name of
the One True God.

But I don’t need to tell you that.
You, my dear lady,
were there.

I remember
those who were sacrificed.
I remember
who destroyed the houses of worship.
I remember
whose enslaved hands built the cathedral.
I remember
who evangelized whom.

I remember, Maria Lucia.
And I remember you.

They tell us
that your husband was a weaver by trade.
Tell me, Maria,
did you assist him
in his handiwork?
Tell me, Maria,
did he weave that garment
that would later become
the miracle of Tepeyac?
Or was the Tilma of Tepeyac
the work of your hands,
a gift
for your beloved husband?
Could it be
that while most of Christendom
doesn’t even remember you existed,
doesn’t even know your name,
Our Lady remembered you
by the garment
sacredly and secretly
woven by your hands?

Tell me,
what was it like for you
watching your husband from heaven?
Was there a celestial joy
when your Juan Diegito
dared to enter the house of the bishop
to bring to him Our Lady’s message?

You know,
to this day it scares some people
to tell the bishop
what he really needs to hear.
I wonder why that is.
To tell the truth,
I wish we had more Coatlatuatzins around today!
I wish we had more people like your Juan,
unafraid to Speak Like An Eagle.

I’ll bet you laughed when Juan was questioned by the bishop!
“What was She wearing,”
Fray Juan de Zumarraga asks.
And your Juanito replies,
“El Sol y las Estrellas.
She wore the sun and the stars.
She stands on the moon. . .and oh, yes,
Su vestido era el color de una princesa azteca. . .
Her dress is color of an Aztec Princess. . . .”
An azteca in your earthly life
you knew well that stars symbolize not only the end of an era
but the beginning of a new one.
That poor bishop never saw what was coming!
I’ll bet you’re still laughing
because some things just never change!

And I’ll bet anything
that when Juan Diego found those roses
he immediately thought of you,
his beloved Maria Lucia.
He probably wished you were there with him
to witness the miracle.

But you were with him.
You were with him in a much grander way
than if you had physically stood at his side.

Tell me, Maria,
during your earthly time,
did you have any idea
that your Juanito
was going to be called
to such a great task?
Did you have any inkling whatsoever?
You know,
we women sometimes know these things.
We don’t know why we know.
We don’t know how we know.
We just know that we know.
My guess is
that while on this earthly plain
you may not have had the full picture,
you probably knew
that something wonderful was to be.

You and Juan
survived the diseases that came with the Spaniards.
And you know,
everything happens for a reason.
You and Juan survived the plagues.
That is the first Guadalupe miracle.
Sadly, it is a miracle story
that never gets told.

Tell me, Maria,
what was it like watching your kinfolk
suffer and die?
It must have been painful and agonizing,
not only for those who suffered the illnesses,
but also for those, like you,
who witnessed it all.

But you and Juan survived.
That must have been your first hint
that The Merciful One
had great plans.

When your ancestors died
did it not fill you with a great sadness
knowing that some of their great teachings
died along with them?
Did it sadden you to lose those
who most understood and appreciated
and celebrated
the gift of flor y canto?

Tell me, Maria Lucia,
what was the war was like?
Tell me of the great Aztec warriors.
Tell me how they died for their faith
and how many suffered,
how they suffered
during the battle.

I can’t imagine anyone destroying my church.
I know a church isn’t the building.
I know a church is the people.
But you know,
that building is sacred.
It holds sacred memories.
You saw them, Maria.
You saw them destroy your temples.

I know that just because you accepted a new faith
that doesn’t erase all of the memories
of your old faith.
Places have power
in that they evoke memories.
Watching those temples destroyed
must have been
like witnessing the death of something sacred.
I mean,
I cry when I find out another church has been closed.
And closing a church is no where near the same
as destroying a temple,
demolishing a belief system.
Closing a church hurts me profoundly.
I can’t even begin to imagine witnessing
the purposeful destruction of one.

Death, disease.
The rape of your culture.
An attempted annihilation of your history.
Tell me, Maria,
why did you ever convert to Christianity?
You experienced all of this
and yet you came to the faith
before Our Lady made her presence known.
How is it that you converted?
That conversion,
my dear Maria Lucia,
is another miracle story
that has been buried,
hidden, forgotten.

How were you called home, Maria?
In the end,
was it one of the many illnesses
brought by the Spaniards?

Or did you die of a broken heart,
accepting this new faith,
but mourning the temples crushed
at the hands of the conquistadors?
you probably died of a broken heart.
Embracing this new faith,
all the while realizing
that the very ones who brought this faith to you
were the ones who didn’t get it.
You knew then
what I am coming to know now.
Sometimes those who most need evangelizing
are the very folk who think that they are already evangelized.

I often wonder
why you were called home
before this all took place.

Maybe it was because
Juan Bernadino
was needed to bring the miracle full circle.
Maybe Diosito and Lupita knew full well
that the world would forget to tell the full story
about the death and destruction.
So Juan Bernadino’s illness
served to show and remind the world
of the miraculous healing power
of Tepeyac.

Maybe you were called home so early
because your Juan Diegito
had to do this on his own,
without the gentle nudging of a spouse.
Or maybe it was
so that you could give your gentle nudges
from the heavens,
accompanied by the angels.

Or maybe,
just maybe,
it was so that several centuries later
women like me
could ponder
what it was like for you.

You were a woman
who witnessed devastating disease and destruction.
You were a woman
called forth to abandon the faith of your parents,
of your ancestors.
You were a woman
called to walk against the grain
of the society of your time.

You were a woman
called to seek a new way to believe
in things eternal,
even choosing a new name: Maria
-the same name of She
who would choose your spouse as Her messenger.

you were called home before
the miracle of Tepeyac took place
so that through your story
women like me can see
and understand
that we may not always see
through these earthly eyes
that which we give birth to.
we must continue to conceive
we must continue to create nonetheless.

Tradition tells us
that Juan Diego was on his way to mass
when Lupita first came to him.
Tell me, Maria,
was Juan Diego on his way
to a mass in your memory?
You know,
we give Lupita Dec. 12th.
And Juan has is own special day of Dec. 9th.
Somehow, we are still missing something.
When would you like your feastday to be celebrated, Maria?
Even if Mother Church
never ever formally remember you,
I will always remember you.

my dearest Maria Lucia,
tell me what I can do
so that others will remember you,
will remember your name.
What can I do to unbury your story?
Once you are truly remembered,
once the pieces of your story are in place
you deserve a place of honor.
a place of honor,
just like Coyolxauhqui,
who now lives at the Museum of Templo Mayor.
And just like Coatlicue,
her mother,
who makes her residence
at the Museum of Anthropology.
María Lucia,
you deserve a place of honor
at the hill of Tepeyac
with the woman
whose name you share:
Maria de Guadalupe.

Eternally Yours,

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