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A Presence That Continues

Communion of Saints

A Presence That Continues
Thursday, March 11, 2021

Theresa Torres’ description of receiving her faith through her grandmother is a wonderful reflection of how faith was once passed down generation to generation. Her grandmother, or abuelita, inspires spirituality not as a religious creedal statement or morality code, but as a healing and transformational way of life.

As I reflected on the various types of prayer I rely on to give me strength and support on a daily basis and to carry me through the dark times, I had to return to my childhood. It was my abuelita. I am a third-generation Mexican American, and it was my grandmother who taught me so much about nuestra cultura and spirituality. I keep these nuggets of wisdom, knowledge, and strength close to my heart and soul. Because what she taught me was that prayer is about life—there is no division between daily life and daily prayer, they are one and the same. She taught me that the great Good that we call God is present all around us and we are one in the great Good.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are of getting up early in the cool, damp summer mornings and finding my grandmother working in her garden and blessing the earth with her hands and her gentle spirit of reverence and awe. In the silence of the morning, as she worked, I found her at prayer—in silence and the presence of love for all of us and the earth. She was at one with the Spirit of Good, God.

She was the ground—the foundation and the presence of spirituality for me and for our entire family. . . . I was twelve at the time of her death, and she died after a short illness. Because she was so strong for most of my life, I could not envision she could be so ill or even could die. I was in denial, and while my mother tried to prepare me and console me, it was abuelita herself who showed me that her goodbye was not an end. In her death, she came to me and said her goodbye through the shared memories of our many experiences, and I felt her love and spirit go through me. She knew that her dying would be hard, but her presence was not gone—we are united in the grounding of the great spirit of Good. She also showed me the unity among those who have gone before us. Her presence and wisdom continue in my life—she has returned in dreams at important points in my life, and she continues to bless me. It is in living and even in dying that we are united in the Spirit of Great Good, so long as we love and we listen deep within. In the grounding of our lives, in the silence, we come to KNOW the wisdom and the transformative Good that exist in us and around us and in the lives of the abuelitas who have gone before us.

Reference:
Theresa Torres, “What My Abuelita Taught Me about Prayer and Memory . . .,” in Voices from the Ancestors: Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices, ed. Lara Medina and Martha R. Gonzales (The University of Arizona Press: 2019), 142–143.

Story from Our Community:
Walking at dawn during a difficult life transition many years ago, I suddenly felt the trees comforting me like grandmothers. My own grandmothers were a steady source of unconditional love and security, giving us shelter whenever we needed it. Now that I am a grandmother myself, trees remind me that my role is simply to stand by with a steady supply of silent love. —Karen F.

Image credit: U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. ca. 1953-ca. 1978, Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. Young men and women sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial, (detail), photograph, public domain.
Image inspiration: What do Chuck Taylors and office dress shoes, high heels and sandals have in common? They shod the feet of our community of saints. The intergenerational wisdom of both the young ones and elders blesses us all.
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