Showing posts from December, 2011

The Cathedral Loses More than a Facade

Today I learned that the facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador has been destroyed, not by an earthquake or the winds of a hurricane, but by the hands of workers at the direction of church leaders.  The images of the colorful tiles crashing to the pavement, the chiseled shards being gathered into white buckets and irreverently being tossed into a dumpster are painful to see. I don't want to question the right of the Catholic Church to pull down something old to make way for something new - new wineskins for new wine are sometimes needed.  As a non-Salvadoran, I don't want to impose my outsider opinion on a Salvadoran decision.   But in my heart I do question the wisdom in carrying out such a violent act on a mural depicting peaceful images of the Salvadoran people, and I do wonder what the motivation was for such a decision. Like any artist, Fernando Llort, the creator of the facade, has his fans and his critics.  I am personally a fan.  He and his family have

The Christmas Corner

I entered the house.  It was dark inside, so it took a moment for my eyes to adjust after being outside in the bright sunshine.  "Just a minute," Julia said.  She reached into the corner and dragged a raggedy extension cord over to the socket and plugged it in. Two little plastic Christmas trees came to life! The trees framed the corner of the room which held a leveled pile of sand and a multitude of small treasures.  Each item was carefully placed to face the corner, and in the corner there was a well-loved ceramic Baby Jesus. Julia had spent a long time assembling her Christmas corner. "These are my son's baby shoes.  We brought this pine cone back from a trip to the mountains.  My boys played with these cars when they were little.  I have had this figure since I was a little girl."  Julia carefully picked up treasure after treasure, grateful for the memory it brought to mind, joyful to share the memory and her stories with a friend. Donkeys and horses

Tamale Time!

Christmas Eve festivities happen at our house. We go to church in the later afternoon and then come home for a quiet evening of snacking, talking, Christmas music, playing games and opening a few gifts. The family members who do not have other celebrations to attend come to our house, so the guests vary from year to year and so does the food. This year, I have decided to go with a Salvadoran theme. There are a few Salvadoran dishes which I make pretty often, and they turn out pretty well: guacamole with big chunks of avocado and hard-boiled eggs, cauliflower relleno with tomato salsita, ejotes (green beans) cut fine and made with scrambled egg, and of course, Salvadoran red beans...but there is one must-have for Christmas which I have not yet attempted -- tamales. If my kids are reading this, they are probably groaning and saying "yuck." It's true, their experiences with tamales in El Salvador have included a few unwelcome bites into chicken beaks, chicken feet

The Advent Bracelet

I am still wearing two slightly battered, mis-matched bracelets. The tightly-knotted turquoise, orange and white one has survived on my wrist for an amazingly long time. I did take it off for my son's wedding, which technically broke my wear it til it breaks rule. For a long time, the tri-colored yarn was accompanied by 3 stretchy elastic bands strung with teeny tiny beads. These beaded bracelets are often traded among teen boys and girls in our sister church community and after a while they break , scattering beads across the dirt or across the floor. Some have survived long enough to return to El Salvador for a visit or two. The second bracelet on my wrist is a purple, stretchy rubber-band bracelet which springs into the shape of a clothes hanger when I take it off. It was obtained in a trade - tiny pink beads for a purple hanger. I have to confess: the hanger was also removed for the wedding. This morning I pulled out the big plastic box which holds gift bags, tissue pa

Off the Beaten Path: El Mozote, 30 Years Down the Road

Thirty years ago, a terrible massacre was carried out by the Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran armed forces in the small town of El Mozote. More than 1000 people were killed. This week, Tim's El Salvador Blog is dedicating its posts to sharing the story of this horrific event. Three years ago I visited El Mozote. Tim was with me. A very dear friend from our sister church, who has a chauffeur's license, drove us there in a rented car. Although our friend had heard of the massacre, he had not been to El Mozote and he knew very little about what actually happened there. He is a politically active, staunch FMLN supporter who knows a great deal about what happened during the war, so this surprised me a little. We made the long drive from the capital, from highway, to small paved road, to rocky bumpy road, to dirt path. We paused along the way for lunch in a small town , enjoying a little time for rest and conversation before beginning a visit to a place which we knew wou

O Christmas Tree

When I was in 2nd grade, my Sunday School teacher took a Polaroid photo of me and each of my classmates as we stood in front of a church Christmas tree. We pasted those pictures onto cream-colored tag board stars, and then carefully pasted burnt matchsticks onto each of the star points. This little Linda star was a Christmas present for my mom and dad that year, and it was placed on the tree that year and for several years beyond. When my kids were in preschool, each of them had the opportunity to make an ornament from an inverted flat-bottomed ice cream cone. A pipe cleaner was stuck through the bottom to make a hook, and the cone was covered with white icing. Colorful cereal pieces were stuck into the icing and the Christmas bell was ready to hang on the tree. Each sticky bell had it's one glorious year on the tree. Whether it reappears year after year or adorns the tree only once, a home-made ornament is a beautiful and memorable gift. The first time we were in El Salvador