does not describe me fully
it is where to start
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My Religious Primer
Reared in the Pentecostal religion, I was presented with two choices. The first, the only road to Salvation, required that I adhere to the precepts of a Bible-centered strict religious denomination. The second, considered to be the road to Perdition, was the worldly way, which included everything else, including non-Pentecostal Christianity.
I chose a third path, one which honored all religious traditions. In my view, religions often begin as an individual or group attempt to make sense of a complex cosmos. Except when they resort to violence and excessive proselytizing, I deeply respect the attempt of most religions to seek coherence and order in a world that intrinsically may be incoherent and chaotic.
Over the years, I have studied many religions, often joining them as a fellow celebrant, sometimes for extended periods of time. Given the "overdose" of churching in my youth, though, after any prolonged exposure, I start to suffer from wanderlust. As a consequence, I don’t “belong” to any religion, but can walk into a synagogue, church, mosque, shrine or ashram and feel at home, even if for just a little while.
It is not surprising, then, that in my fiction, I spend a lot of time in churches, with characters who embrace, characters who flee from, but always characters who try to make sense of religion and spirituality in their lives. In this, they reflect my own life's journey. Hence, the title for this blog: Pilgrim Soul.
My writing frequently explores multicultural themes. Born in Puerto Rico, I moved at a young age to the U.S., where my parents became Pentecostal ministers. Early immersion in Latino and religious cultures preceded later experiences as a businesswoman, a White House Fellow, and life aboard a trawler cruising from Martha’s Vineyard to South America. These sometimes incompatible worlds have given me a respectful outlook toward differing points of view. My short stories, poems, and essays reflect my own inclusive, yet sharply defined, journey across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. I recently published Peace on the Journey, a poetry collection which explores the theme of renewal in the face of adversity.
The defining image of this blog is a waterfall. Its inspiration comes from a scene in one of my novels in which the infant protagonist escapes her mother’s attention and wanders off to a nearby waterfall. While there, she experiences a mysterious sense of wellbeing, which she yearns to replicate for the rest of her life.
"I have made love to my writing and am now in the afterglow."
"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
About his fictional town Macondo, widely acknowledged to be inspired by his real home town of Aracataca, Colombia. “Macondo is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear."
"The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."
Blaise Pascal, Pensées
"There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and, because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly... to keep the channel open."