Depth and Breadth

Saturday night I sat in a crowded hall with a hundred people of all ages. The name of the hall was “Sons of Norway,” and there was a painting of a fetching blond in Norwegian garb looking coyly between two white birch trees, but the faces in the room were all brown—except for ours and one other couple. It was the party after three little girls were baptized at Resurrección Church, and as the officiant at the rite, my wife and I were invited. The older ones spoke in hushed tones in Mixteco, the middle-aged conversed in Spanish, the teens were all cyber-communicating, and two little boys ran from the hall giggling as one called after the other in English, “I’m gonna get you!” There, in front of us, was a whole shift of generations, from First Nations of Mesoamerica to one of the emerging colors in the Great American Mosaic.

The dancing finally started. First, the parents of the three girls and the godparents, with the children, all got up to dance the “Baile de los Padrinos,” (The dance of the godparents.) This officially opened the dance floor. The next dance was for all the padrinos, those who had contributed in some way to the expenses and work of the lavish party. Finally, the rest of us had a chance, at our discretion, to go out and bob in the middle of the crowd. It was an easy step, a quick waltz rhythm, with a simple shuffling of the feet. It was a dance for everyone, as if the significant percussion element in the music nudged hearts to beat in unison for a time. In a stretch of 20 minutes we celebrated the joining of two families in compadrazgo, a recognition of all the rest of the combined effort for this event, and the melding of peoples old and young, brown and white, into one bobbing pueblo, celebrating a spiritual ritual of life. The death and destruction, the threat to Hispanic people of the previous weekend, was somehow forced far, far away for a moment of life and unity.

Life is deep and broad, if you just open your eyes and hearts to see what’s going on!

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