June 10, 2010

* When the Thunder Rolls ....

... the mops and buckets come out.  Rain in San Miguel is nothing to be toyed with.  It finds it's way through the smallest cracks and crannies.  The drops are huge, over sized water pellets.  Like the sky has been saving them for months and can't wait to get on with it.  They fall heavy and hard.  Some turn to hail.  The winds howl, thunder rolls in over the hills and lightening illuminates the sky.  It will be interesting to see what happens when it rains at Quinta de Luz.  I do have a mop and bucket handy just in case.

Habibi's curiosity got the best of him.  He's investigating.

Work carried on at a frantic pace over at de Luz today.  When I walked over this morning it was like an ant hill.  Probably 20 men climbing ladders, building walls, mixing cement, plastering, moving in and out of the big doors at the front.  Busy, busy, busy.

Tomorrow, at 5:00 pm, after the workers go home, I am moving! (?)  Still that silent question mark.  Luis, the Senor we hire to drive us, is coming to help me move.  He's bringing his pick-me-up truck.  If it's raining, he's bringing his van.  Moving tomorrow will give me a couple of days without workers present.  I may even be able to get a little settled in.

The plumber still has not been there.  I still need the locks on the doors.  Tomorrow will tell the tale.

A bee hive of activity!

Walls going higher

Outside in the street where they are sifting sand for mixing the cement.  With all the crews here, there is not enough room to do it inside!  (Out of focus photo --- not your eyes.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe now watches over Quinta de Luz, just outside my front door.  It is said that Our Lady is so revered in Mexico, no one will graffiti your house if she is present.  I think she's exquisite.  She will take care of my little house.  From the first time I saw 'the real thing' in the Basilica in Mexico City, I knew I adored her.

[Our Lady of Guadalupe]
Greatly astonished, the Franciscan bishop of Mexico, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, contemplates the fresh roses of Castille that sprinkle with colors the floor of his episcopal palace. Tears run down his cheeks as he recognizes the beautiful image that has just appeared on the rough cloth that Juan Diego has unfolded in his presence. It is Tuesday, December 12, 1531, scarcely ten years after the conquest of Mexico, and the Mother of God has come to the defeated Indians to "show and give" all her "love and compassion, help and defense, because I am your merciful mother."
For four days the Virgin has told her wishes to Juan Diego, talking to him in nahualtl, his own tongue. When she identified herself, Mary used the word coatlallope, a compound noun made up of coatl, that is: serpent, the preposition a, and llope, to crush; in other words, she identified herself as "the one who crushes the serpent." Others reconstruct the name as Tlecuauhtlapcupeuh, which means: "The one who comes from the region of light as the Eagle of Fire." In any event, the nahualtl word sounded to the Spanish friars like Guadalupe, relating the Tepeyac apparition with the beloved title which the conquistadores venerated in the Basilica raised by King Alfonso XI in 1340.
The Spanish image of "Guadalupe" is an ancient wood carving dressed in rich brocade cloaks that give it the triangular shape much favored at the time. She is very different from the Tepeyac painting, not only because of her Iberian-Byzantine features, but also because she carries the Child Jesus in her left arm and holds a royal scepter in her right hand, displaying a gold crown on her head. The Guadalupe of Cáceres, whose origin, according to legend, is placed about the sixth century, was found on the shore of the Guadalupe River (hidden river in Arabic) in the Villuercas mountain range, around 1326, after the Moors were driven out of that area.
Four hundred years elapsed before western culture recognized with admiration that the image imprinted on the native cloth was truly a Mexica codex, a message from heaven loaded with symbols. Helen Behrens, a North American anthropologist, discovered in 1945 what the eyes of the Indians had "read" in the painting of the "Mother of the true God by whom one lives" in December of 1531.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe remained stamped on a coarse cloth made from maguey fibers. It was on the ayate used by the Indians to carry things and not on the tilma which is usually of a finer cotton texture. The weft of the ayate is so simple and coarse that one can see through it easily, and the fiber of the maguey is such an unsuitable material that no painter would have chosen it to paint on.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a marvelous cutural synthesis, a masterpiece that presented the new faith in such a way that it was immediately understood and accepted by the Mexican Indians. It is impossible to describe the rich and complex symbolism contained on this painting-codex because every detail of color and of form carries a theological message.
[Our Lady  of Guadalupe]
The face imprinted in the ayate is that of a young mestizo girl; an ethnic anticipation, since at that time there were no mestizos of that age in Mexico. Mary thus assumes the sorrows of thousands of children, the first of a new race, which at that time were rejected both by the Indians and by the conquerors. The painting which is preserved in the modern Basilica of Tepeyac measures approximately sixty-six by forty-one inches and the image of the Virgin takes up fifty-six inches. The Virgin is standing and her face leans delicately, somewhat reminiscent of the traditional "Immaculates."
The blue star sprinkled cloak is the Tilma de Turquesa (turquoise tilma) used by the nobles that denoted the rank and importance of the bearer. Sun rays completely surround the Virgin of Guadalupe as if to indicate that she is their dawn. This young girl is a few months pregnant, as implied by the black bow at her waist, the slight protuberance below it, and the increased intensity of the sun rays at the waist. Her foot rests on a black moon (symbol of evil to the Mexica) and the angel, who supports her with a severe gesture, has his eagle wings unfolded.
The Virgin of Guadalupe presented herself to her children as the "Mother of the Creator and Preserver of All the Universe," who comes to her people because she wishes to protect all of them, Indians and Spaniards, with the same motherly love. With the wonderful imprint on the ayate a new world was beginning, the dawn of the sixth sun that the Mexicans were awaiting.
For 116 years the picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe was exposed to the rigors of the weather, with no protection against dust, humidity, heat, the candles' smoke and the continuous rubbing of thousands and thousands of objects that had been touched to the venerated image, in addition to the constant contact of the hands and kisses of an infinite number of pilgrims. It has been proven that the maguey fabric breaks down easily; cloth woven with this vegetable fiber does not last more than twenty years, and - nevertheless - Juan Diego's ayate has lasted over four centuries in perfect condition.
Pius X proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe "Patroness of all Latin America"; Pius XI of "all the Americas"; Pius XII called her "Empress of the Americas"; and John XXIII "The celestial missionary of the New World" and "the Mother of the Americas."
Every year twenty million faithful approach the venerated picture to express their affection and veneration to their heavenly Mother. It is estimated that on her feast day, December 12, nearly three million people go to the Sanctuary of Tepeyac, whose round shape symbolizes the tent that sheltered the Ark of the Covenant in its march through the desert; the inside lamps which hang from the ceiling are reminiscent of the cloud that led the people of God day by day, and the shining gold wall that supports the picture represents the column of fire and light that indicated the way during the night. In this great basilica John Paul II beatified the Indian Juan Diego on May 6, 1990.
There have been serious attempts against the picture and it has withstood corrosive acids and even a large bomb without suffering damage. Now a thick strong glass protects it inside the air-conditioned room which is closed like a strong box. The faithful can look at the picture from a moving mat which slides in two directions so the devotees will not remain in ecstasy contemplating their beloved Virgin. The marvels in connection with the Virgin of Guadalupe have interested today's scientists, who have been unable to determine both the origin of the pigments that give color to the picture and how it was painted. The images reflected in the eyes of the Virgin of Guadalupe have been studied since 1929. At present, thanks to modern techniques, it has been possible to discover in both eyes groups of people and objects placed in accordance with the most precise optical laws; just as in the eyes of a live person. It is as if the "painter" of the picture had wanted to reproduce inside the eyes of the image the scene that these were seeing at the time.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is deep in the hearts of her people; she gave Juan Diego a delicate treatment of nobility elevating prophetically the condition of all her people. Because of this she was the banner raised by Father Miguel Hidalgo to begin the revolution for Mexican Independence.

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