Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Iglesia de San Franciso

Yesterday after blogging, I tooled around some more and ended up at Iglesia de San Francisco about an hour before they closed, just before I had to be at dinner (at home across the street.) I went to the tomb of Hermano Pedro. It is a very powerful place. I say that not just because it is a place of worship or a tomb of someone who is respected. I say that because I consider myelf to be the farthest thing from spiritual. Remember, this is the place that people come to pray for the sick.

Men, women and children were praying at the tomb. Some left in tears. I saw a father do the "father, son holy spirit" thing to his daughter. Another woman had her arm through the grate and was resting her head in her elbow as if she was exhausted and begging for something. She had been there for at least 5 minutes. People seemed to approach and knock three times before praying as if to wake Hermano Pedro or let him know that they are there. The emotion of those people was so powerful. I imagined who they were praying for and it made me cry. Another young girl did the "father, son holy spirit" to her little sister. There must be a lot of sick people here in Antigua- there has been a steady stream of people here at the tomb. Some hang small wax or plastic angels on the grate at the tomb.

Should I "pray" for someone? Who should I "pray" for? Can I "pray" for everyone who is sick? In my own way I prayed for Teresa's grandmother, for my grandparents, one of my friends who is always in pain. I wish I could have prayed for dad. I wish I knew he was not well. I would do anything to bring him back. I know he is always with me now, but I miss him. I wish I would have done some things differently....

These people seem so much closer to their religion. I wonder why that is. Were they raised that way? They had to be. They obviously live it everyday. It is so much a part of their lives, not just going to church on Sundays and maybe bible study on Wednesday nights- this is like eating to them and they really believe in it.

I met the most beautiful young girl while I was sketching in the courtyard of the church. She, her grandmother and her brother were leaving as I was arriving to begin. I was still teary and I said "hola" to her and she replied but kept walking. A few minutes later, they came back. She asked me in English where I was from. Her english was very good- at first I thought she may be Guatemalan-American or something, but she said she was from Chichicastenengo. (People ride the bus for an hour to come here!) She asked me what I was doing here (I guess I wasn't sure if she meant Guatemala or the church) and I don't know if I answered her question, but I told her tearily that my dad had died and then I really started to cry. She was so sweet, she said she was sorry about my dad. Her grandma asked why I was crying, the girl had to translate for me. And I repeated myself, this time in broken spanish for the grandmother. She said she was so sorry and she put her hand on my shoulder. It sounds hokey, but just then the sun came out and shined seemingly only where we were in this gorgeous courtyard. I wish they would not have left. That was the most comfort I have had since I got here. That little girl was an angel.

A few minutes later, one of the church workers came over and and said something in spanish to me and when I looked up in response, she saw I was crying and she then did the motion and expression that she was sorry to interrupt. She then offered me some toilet paper from the wad in her pocket. I was so grateful- before I started sketching I went to the bathroom to get some tissue but they charge Q$2. I don't know if I started crying more after that because I was so happy to get some nose blow or because she was exclaiming and motioning to "Let it all out, let it go, cry away!" (In spanish, of course...)

I wonder now if my angel sent the church lady over to me or if that's her job- to pass out tp to all the criers. I guess it doesn't matter. It occured to me while I was there that I may live across the street for a reason. I will definitely be back.


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