I enter the church to what sounds like a tired monster karaoking to a song about God being before our eyes. It is a deep voice that, without the raspy, husky edge, could be warm.
The guy sending off the fireworks to get the tardy sinners to church peeks in the side door; despite hearing no pause in the singing, he elects to send off five more explosions into the dawn.
The hoarse voice instigates another song that goes something like Buenos Dias, paloma blanca/ Good morning, white dove. A younger voice joins in, a more human one, but this voice has problems with the micas he leads us in a round of Viva Carnens!
This is the worst choir I have ever heard. And I was in Mr. Tomlinsin’s choir when he told us we sounded like a truck with four flat tires flapping down the road.
The priest welcoming us is undeniably the creature whose exhausted voice drowns out the rest. I decide that maybe he’s just excited about being at the saint’s birthday celebration.
If I’m translating correctly, he just said that we can shout out requests for the choir, since it’s a day of celebration.
Next, there is an open mic session where people speak to Carmen. They ask for peace for the world and for Oaxaca and for all of the Oaxacans in these difficult times.
“Santa Maria” is the next song.
The sky outside is lightening from charcoal to the dense blue that surrounds the sun or accompanies a flickering flame.
A woman hangs a banner that says: Te Suplicamos Madre de la Misericordia/We supplicate to you, Mother of Mercy. It is crooked, and three people conspicuously struggle to rearrange it. It takes an Adrian Monk from the pews to get the job done.
A large dark butterfly flies in, capturing our attention not only because It is as large as a bat.
The swinging incense carrier makes the sound of drumsticks struck together. I wait patiently for this place to break into a flash mob. It does not. The sweet scent makes me hungry.
Creemos en ella y tambien confia en nosotros/We believe in her and she trusts in us. This is the heart of the sermon that resonates above the din of our stomachs which growl back at the choir as if it part of the morning’s call and response.
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —
I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at least —
I’m going, all along.
- I am a foreigner to Spanish, in Oaxaca, and in the Catholic church. Most days the differences are magical and result in all sorts of learning and understanding and lingering wonder and delight. Approximately one thirtieth of the the time, being a foreigner is excruciating, practically unbearable. Drill into the ecstasy or misery–whichever is harder.