Trapped in my own home, city, body, mind, old habits, ways of being. Trapped in a holding pattern. Trapped in it, alive, in the world, in the now.
Well, the good news, I don’t have that to fear after death. That’s not necessarily true, but what is true is I see clearly with my own eyes how we Christians have misunderstood death, misinterpreted hell.
The sounds, the pounds, in my head and all around.
Looking back on my trip to India, a mere four years ago, I am taken aback, embarrassed even. I can’t believe the person in those photos shares the same body as me, some of her structural make up. That thing that wandered the streets taking photos of lepars, beggars and thinking she was doing something (which to some extent she was, considering that a part of India runs on its tourism industry) was asleep. She was alseep, even though at the time she/I would argue she/I was not. That person, her face fatter, her soul thinner, even though at the time she/I would argue it was not.
This thing inside has shattered that thing in that photo. I can no longer look at those photos and say I didn’t know, even though I now know that I didn’t know.
What did they think of me—my white skin and smiling face, expecting a chai every time I stepped foot into that ashram? I couldn’t do it now, and to be honest with myself, couldn’t do it then. I know that. I remember those voices inside. I felt I had to prove something to someone, but who, I’m still not sure. And what was the cost? I will never know, and how settling is that?
‘Lily of the Mohawks,’ or Kateri Tekakwitha will become the first Native American saint venerated by the Catholic Church. This woman was born in 1656 and lived to be 24 years old. She will be canonized on Sunday after a young boy was miraculously cured of a flesh-eating disease through prayer and placing a relic of Kateri on his leg in 2006. MSNBC article here.
What I find most interesting about this article is how it brings to light the complexities of relationships between indigenous peoples and the Catholic Church. The article states that Kateri was, “ostracized and persecuted by other natives for her faith,” as she was baptized Catholic by Jesuit missionaries. On the other hand, currently, “There’s been a growing sense of a return to Native American spirituality on reservations, which are good things, but at the same time along with that has been some criticism that native people should let go of Christianity because that was brought by the ‘white man’ and should go back to their own native culture entirely.”
It’s a complex issue with complex implications for the future of religion.
What is also interesting to me about this article is the relevance of time. Kateri’s posthumous sainthood is indeed a statement of the rippling effect of our lives–although something may not be realized, actualized, or manifested during one’s own 100-year life span (in her case, 24 years), we each do indeed affect the whole.