Dear PILGRIMS, here in Atlanta, the seasons are changing. The sweet balminess of spring is quickly evaporating as summer approaches. CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. This evening when daylight lingers on the horizon well past the dinner hour, many of us PILGRIMS are mourning the loss of a dear friend. Luis Caamano, only 46 years old, died on this morning, May 23, 2010.
Many of us suspect that his SPIRIT has paused momentarily among us--that he hesitates to leave us because we are not ready to let him go. As we speak of him, there is laughter and there are tears.
WHERE DO WE GO WHEN WE DIE? What is the destination for Luis? For Hallelujah, this question is the GREAT MYSTERY.
In recent years, I have chosen to think of this GREAT MYSTERY as a divine feminine force. In order to breathe life into this abstract idea, I have searched for “female figures” that “hold” this MYSTERY for me. These drawings, watercolors, and photos that you see here are my explorations on this topic.
Again and again, I am drawn to the young Muslim women who dress modestly and wear hijabs. As a teacher of English as a second language, I have the privilege of becoming acquainted with these young women in my classroom and the hallways of our Language Institute at Georgia Tech. I also teach art at the Global Village School in Decatur.
Often it is the “unfamiliar” that holds the MYSTERY. Seeing their upturned faces carefully draped by yards of fabric as they ask a question. Watching them drift from classroom to classroom, their ankle length skirts or long coats floating behind. Observing their forms, sitting next to one another on the couches sharing cakes and tea, their faces and hands visible.
What is KNOWABLE? What is UNKNOWABLE? When do we ever truly KNOW someone or something? Is a young female student dressed in a hijab more difficult to KNOW than one dressed in a mini-skirt and tank top? Is it because these students in hijabs pray five times a day facing Mecca that I look to them for some kind of amorphous answer to the major questions of LIFE?
I do know that CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. But what makes for a GOOD DEATH? Did my friend Luis die well? For those of us left living, what makes for a GOOD LIFE--especially when we see that our lives can be suddenly wrenched away from us as was Luis’ when he had his sudden heart attack.
On my PILGRIMAGE, I seek the GASP of discovery. I stand in AWE of the unknown. I look for the MOTHER, that divine feminine force which I believe will help me comprehend something I only vaguely sense is out there beyond me. I imagine SHE is the GREAT MYSTERY.
FELLOW SOJOURNERS, what do you KNOW about LIFE and DEATH? What can we KNOW with certainty? Share your thoughts with Hallelujah. Meanwhile Luis, I will look for your shining eyes out there in the darkened night sky among the constellations. You loved us all and we loved you back. We will love you always.