Monday, June 18, 2007

Church in Chacala

Yesterday I was over near Chacala’s church, visiting with some friends. The church bells were ringing, for a Quinceneira Mass for the daughter, I think, of an out-of-town family. The church here is pretty new. It might have been built a short time before the Hurricane in the Fall of 2002. I think I am correct in my belief that the funds for the construction and materials for the Church were raised entirely by locally families. But, of course, I could easily be wrong about this.Since I have been in Chacala, the Church has changed from a bare shell, with no doors, windows, pews, fans, lights, altar or storage area to a lovely sanctuary, with stained glass windows, a tiled floor, pews, an altar, art work, fans, and so on. The bell still hangs from the giant tree out in front of the church, and rings frequently. The kids who are 8 or older and haven’t made their 1st Communion are meeting two or three days a week for Catechism class with Chata and her helper, Juanito. The bell with rung for the classes, and for Mass, when the priests arrives, and for various other occasions held at the Church.Anyway, Juanito, a young man who seems to have devoted his life the ”Church” in a kind of independent model, was also sitting at the table visiting with my friends. He showed me some lovely drawings an engineer had made of some proposed additions to the Chacala church.

I have always been kind of prejudiced against cathedrals and large church complexes. I do love looking at, and also sitting in, the beautiful, sometimes very old, churches here in Mexico. And I hate to think of the slave labor and the endless resources that have gone into constructing these buildings.When I think of the lack of adequate schools and medical facilities here, it’s hard to appreciate the building of elaborate and expensive church buildings. The giant new Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles comes to mind.

I don’t know what the bible stays about building monuments, but it’s hard for me to believe that’s what Jesus had In mind. I can’t picture him talking to people from an high altar in a huge cathedral. Or in any building, actually. I would be curious to know if he ever talked to people from inside a building.This is a locally built structure, made with natural materials,
for the celebration of Indio rites.

In a climate like Chacala’s it seems as though all that is really needed is shelter from the sun and the rain. And something to sit on.

Anyway, I oohed and aahed about the sketches. They were very nice. But then I said when I wanted to be near to “God”, I liked being outside best. And that I thought Jesus did too. And we changed the subject. Oh well, I should keep my opinions to myself. It’s seems to be weird enough for people here that I am not Catholic, or at least Protestant (Evangelical, or Luz de el Mundo).

And, of course, I still to have a strong pull towards Guadalupe, who I had never heard of until I came to Chacala. I even have a little shelf in my living space for my Guadalupe art. Whatever. I have no idea what it means, but I like having it here.

Yesterday, one of the landladies in Chacala who I especially admire, showed me her Guadalupe things, in her bedroom. I thought she was showing me their “new” addition, but actually she was showing me her altar. Many women here seem to have them. Either inside or outside their homes.Then she showed me how her old, pre-Hurricane Kenna, home was arranged. All the cooking, eating, and laundry areas were under a big palapa attached to a very tall palm. When the Hurricane took it down, everything collapsed, including the two sleeping areas.

And then they rebuilt in concrete block and laminated roofing. With windows and doors. She was animated and happy when she was marking off the off areas on what is now the open patio in front of their new home. “Here was my table, and stove, and the place for washing, and……” She said she misses the old life and likes her new home.I love my space here, in Chacala. A 13 X 13 bedroom, with a brick arched ceiling and two big windows, a 5 by 8 bath. Tiled floors, and a 13X14 covered patio, with a great view. I love it. I feel to blessed to live here.

These are photos of churches I have visited in San Miguel de Allende and San Juan de Los Lagos. I think they are lovely,and I like being in them. But the human and societal price we pay for these structures is always in my mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Andee,
I'm with you regarding your opinion of big cathedrals and lavish places of worship. I have seen pictures of Africans worshiping under a tree, singing and dancing with joyful smiles. I feel that God is too big to be confined to a building . . . of any size! However, I did enjoy your photos of the Chacala church. It is lovely, and not too lavish - functional, but pretty.
~Ramona in Alaska