catholicism, a while back
last friday night, june 20, i attended a confirmation class for students between ages 17-22. i was apprehensive about my indoctrination into the catholic world, but my fears were put to rest upon arrival. the class is held in a small church (seating no more than 50 people) in the center of the village. structures of jesus and saints hang over the alter, and on the walls there are small portrayals of biblical scenes. we filled up half of the benches with confirmation students, who are all family and close friends. yolanys was the center of attention having brought a gringa to class. i made friends straight away. omar, my neighbor and distant cousin of the family, sat on the other side of me as the class began.
we all chatted for a bit before starting our first skit. we got up to form a circle in the center of the alter. the maestra lit a match and we had to pass it around quickly without burning our peers. there were about twenty people who had to hold the flame before it burnt out. by the end, people had to be very careful not to get burned. after the exercise, the teacher asked "what did the flame symbolize?" some responded by explaining the responsibility of passing the flame, and some said it was the light of god. when asked "how did the skit make you feel?" many said it felt dangerous and exciting. to me, the fire was an opportunity of liberty to be shared by all. with freedom comes responsibility (as all of us at bhs know all too well)and when there is a chance for freedom some people miss out or get burned. the excitement of passing a match when first lit was liberating, and much different than the fear some had of getting burned towards the end. the interpretations varied depending on each experience. the teacher explained how we all share the light of god and we pass his spirit around throughout the world. some get to admire the light while other can hold on it to for only a moments time.
we then did an exercise comparing the understanding of god to road travel. for example, a question would be "when you are driving do you prefer air conditioning, all the windows open, or an opened sunroof?" the correct answer for confirmation class was just a sunroof open to have an open port toward the heavens. i happened to get most of them "right" just by my personal preferences. one of the questions i got wrong was "when traveling do you prefer to be the only passenger, would you like one persons company, or do you want your car to be packed with your friends?" i love to drive with emily, adri, and kyla all in the car so i answered with the last choice. apparently, one is supposed to want to drive alone with god as their copilot. no thanks...
the group continued by writing our personal moral values along with thing we see as immoral. that was way to easy for me. being my opinionated self, it took all of 2 minutes to complete that assignment. i felt like i was back in my second grade classroom from earlier in the day when a bunch of my friends started asking me for answers. cheating on work is way to normal here. by the end of the class, i had shared one of my drawings that i was working on with the class. omar shared one too, it was a quite nice. it ended with my feeling spiritually drained as each student read from the bible.
the next morning we all woke up early and brought money to a man who lives down the street from me. he has a fatal illness and no income. after yolanys volunteered to read a passage from the bible we handed him a mere $15 for some food. he put his face in his hands and cried and cried. we all left him there, in his hammock in the back of his shanty home tears rolling down his cheeks onto his fingers and hands. i wanted so badly to stay. i have no idea what i would have done, but leaving was difficult for us all. some of the girls in my group shed a few tears, for here we are all family. to see a member in such pain is more difficult than i thought it would be.
so long for now,