04 December 2008

Lighting A Candle...

...To The Ones We Can't Hold A Candle To.

I haven’t posted anything in a long time.

I haven’t really had anything to say, or, better said, I haven’t had anything to say that I thought anyone would want to read.

Not that this is worth reading or anything, but I thought I’d try something more personal to get back into the swing of things…

…Today is Saint Barbara’s feast day- a Cuban holiday of sorts.

I was going to light a candle and wait till midnight. The Saint Barbara vigil-“esperar a Santa Bárbara.”

I was sitting in the dark thinking about this Cuban custom and about the many December 3rds in my past when I had gone to parties to “wait for Saint Barbara.”

At one point in my life, I thought the tradition was primitive, pagan and so third world religiously superstitious. Now, it has become a cultured and a rich, sophisticated Cuban eccentricity. The Cuban people have progressed a lot in twenty years.

Anyway, I was sitting there thinking about the Cuban devotion to this Christian martyr and why the attraction.

I don’t know if I was asleep or dozing off or what, but I had a weird stream of consciousness flowing.

I was looking at the red Santa Bárbara velón that we had bought to use as a hurricane candle. Now, at the risk of being accused of “nada mas acordarme de Santa Bárbara cuando truena,” (only thinking of Saint Barabara when it thunders- a Cardinal Cuban Sin), there IS no better time to light a candle to Santa Bárbara then when you’re in the middle of a thunderstorm or hurricane and the power goes out. A modern mixture of practicality and third world religious superstitiousness and rich cultural eccentricity.

The candle was red- Santa Bárbara’s color. I thought of Cuban women wearing red on Dec. 4th. Then, came the association of red with communism and why I don’t like red.

And so in the cool, quiet dark as I lingered between reality and a dream, the red candle became Cuba and the tower at the foot of the virgin was “El morro.”

Saint Barbara was the captive Cuba, isolated from the rest of the world, tortured by a tyrannical father because she had chosen the truth and the light over pagan Godlessness.

Santa Bárbara, rebellious, had miraculously escaped the tower where her father locked her up for her beliefs just like many Cubans who were locked up in La Cabaña, next to the tower of El Morro. And she was persecuted and martyred for intransigently clinging to her principles.

And as I drifted further from reality, Santa Bárbara was there, sword in hand, only she had Yoani Sanchez’s face with her haunting dark eyes and Cuban Mona Lisa smile and she stood in front of El Morro with a tear running down her face.

I suddenly was startled back to the reality I had drifted from by my nodding head, and for a fleeting instant it was all so crystal clear- Santa Bárbara, Cuba and our devotion to red clad, sword wielding rebels. It was all so crystal clear until I drifted off again.

Like the Apostles in the garden of Gethsemane, I had been too weak to stay awake and light the candle for Santa Bárbara and Cuba and Yoani and the many that have been martyred for their beliefs-those that I could never hold a candle to.

This morning, imprisoned in three dimensions, my mind cannot make the connections and associations and the once crystal clear revelation is more like a foggy hallucination. But, it is clear that I should light that candle in admiration.

Coincidently, while looking for a picture of Santa Bárbara to go along with this meditation, I found I wasn’t the only son of a son of a sailor who’s mind had associated Santa Bárbara with freedom, exile…and a salty piece of land.

A Salty Piece Of Land ------Jimmy Buffett

I was listening for answers
That I could not really hear
When the words of a wise old Indian
Put a conch shell to my ear

And I took off for the ocean
I was searching for the coast
Painting pictures of my vision
With the words from grandma ghost

Hiding from the dragons
Riding for the sea
Singing ballads from my childhood
“A pirate’s life for me”

Survivors seem to function best
When peril is at hand
With a song of the ocean
Meets a salty piece of land

I was force-fed my religion
But I somehow saved my smile
Tapped into my instincts
As I headed to’ards exile

Cleopatra did not own a barge
But a schooner was her home
She has centuries of stories
And there’s wisdom in her bones

She was on a sacred mission
And she told me of a place
Where a man can hide forever
But never loose his face

So I saddled up my seahorse
With a fly-rod in my hand
I was not looking for salvation
Just a salty piece of land

Somedays Cayo Loco SHIMMERS
Like the stars up in the sky
And the seabirds they do touch and gos
As the world just tangos by

But there are times when she is hidden
Beneath the wild and crashing waves
And the patron saint of lightening
Keeps the sailors from their graves

Some say it is a blinding sword
Pointing out into the sea
While others say her guiding light
Leads to’ards eternity

Still I sit in contemplation
And I just don’t understand
This mysterious attraction
Of this salty piece of land

Still I search the constellations
And the tiny grains of sand
Where the song of the ocean
Meets the salty piece of land


Anonymous said...

Gracias Gusano, Awesome post.

ricardo said...

Gusano, tiraste strike, mi hermano.
Io te saluto.