Last year I hosted a writing retreat on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It was my second time there, and I loved it! One of the interesting things about this exotic location is the potcake dogs.
According to Wikipedia, “a potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type found on several Caribbean islands. Its name comes from the congealed peas and rice mixture that local residents traditionally eat, as the rice that cakes to the bottom of the pot would go to the dogs. Although appearance varies, potcakes generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. A group of potcakes is known as a parliament.”
In my experience, the dogs—who generally travel in small groups—are friendly. They’re usually looking for a food handout. If you accommodate them (which I don’t think you’re supposed to, but I did), then you have friends for life!
The same thing happened when I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
And the same thing happened when I was on a writing sabbatical in Darby, Montana—only this time, it was with a small herd of deer!
Would you feed a stray animal—even if you’re not supposed to?
This is the final post from my San Miguel de Allende experience. As a participant in this story, I was unable to take a photograph, nor would it have been appropriate. As such, I’ve pulled a photograph from my archives; a photograph that represents what this woman was to me — a lighthouse.
Standing in the central part of San Miguel de Allende taking candid photos during their colorful, Day of the Dead celebration, my attention was caught by an elderly woman who’d journeyed in from the campo — the outskirts of town.
Bent from time and weathered with age, her small gnarled hands gripped two short sticks to steady her steps as she slowly progressed. A swathe of fabric wrapped over her shoulder — positioned at an angle across her back — sheathed her few worldly possessions.
And while many others who visibly fared much better asked for handouts, this elderly woman looked neither left nor right, but remained focused on the task at hand — to make it into the cathedral.
Curiosity piqued, I followed her. Ever so slowly she made her way to the third pew from the back on the right-hand side. I sat in the back pew on the left to study the elderly woman unobserved. Her silent sermon spoke volumes to my heart as she sat with eyes closed, palms upward in supplication toward the crucifix at the front of the church:
Keep moving forward — even through the pain
Don’t be held hostage by the opinion of others
Limit material possessions — they are a burden
Make time to sit with God
Carefully folding money so it would fit, I quietly made my way across the aisle and gently pressed a bill into her work-worn, ancient hand, tucking her fingers as I did. Before I could step away, gnarled fingers grasped mine, while her other hand slowly and repeatedly made the sign of the cross — touching my head, chest, and shoulders — as she spoke.
And while I didn’t understand her words, I clearly understood that I was being blessed; that her cloudless, silver-grey eyes took in far more than my features — they took in my heart. More importantly, as my tears washed down her deeply lined face, I knew that I was looking into the face of God.
When was the last time someone looked into your heart?
During my trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, we gathered on a rooftop and got down to business. “We” — a diverse group of women from as far north as Canada, as far south as Australia, and many geographic locations in-between. Within our sacred circle each voice was heard and celebrated for the wisdom it carried.
Whether we connect in person or virtually online, when women gather on the rim — in sacred circles — we birth energetic patterns that change the way we think, the way we work, and the way we experience community.
With a mindset of unleashed, unlimited, potential and possibility, when women gather on the rim we tear down geographic boundaries and break through the seeming limitations of culture, socio-economics, religion, age, language, academics, politics, and diverse interests.
A form of sacred geometry, the circle is an ancient universal symbol that signifies no beginning and no end. When women gather on the rim we share experience, strength, and hope; we share recovery, discovery, and empowerment.
As peacekeepers and healers, the sisterhood of women transcends space and time. When women gather on the rim we form a sacred container for women’s wisdom; we collaborate and co-create visions; we change history by creating a roadmap for tomorrow.
“The answers we seek lie within the inner most circle — the sacred circles of women.” — Grandmother Threecrow
During the week I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico it became clear that due to sheer lack, hygiene, and safety issues, two of the most basic needs—drinkable water and heat—are of tremendous concern.
With service above self as their motto, the local Rotary Club go to the people in dire need — not to gave a hand out, but a hand up — a fishing pole instead of a fish — educating people as they go.
The local Rotary Club has amazingly provided:
587 Cisterns built in 19 Communities
Benefiting 4000+ family members (+ other school & kinder children)
Cost per cistern – US $700
Constructed 1,400 in 29 Communities
Benefiting 5,000 + family members
Cost per stove – US $48
For more information specific to the phenomenal benefits of the small economical stoves, please follow this link: StoveTeam International
To find out how your financial support can help to change lives, please contact:
Saludos—greetings—from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where preparations are excitedly underway for Dia de los Muertos—Day of the Dead—in which the many of the local people remember and honor their deceased loved ones.
Though it may sound somber or macabre, it’s not!
The view from my room in the hacienda where I’m staying
Between Oct 31 and Nov 2 it’s a festivo—festive holiday—with eye-popping, colores vivos—vivid colors—everywhere to welcome departed loved ones, believing that their espíritu—spirits—return to earth for a single day each year to spend time with familia—family.
Day of the Dead is celebrado—celebrated—differently all over the world. In Mexico many of the cemetery lápidas—headstones—have elaborate decorations because it’s thought that the spirits stop there first on their way home. The casas—homes—have intricately decorated ofrendas—altars—to welcome departed loved ones.
Stairwell in hacienda – my room’s at the top
It’s believed that the spirits of bebés y niños—babies and children—arrive at midnight on Oct 31 to spend a full day with their families then leave, and the spirits of adultos—adults—arrive the following day.
Bedroom Ceiling in Hacienda by Laurie Buchanan
¿Alguna vez se celebra el día de los muertos Have you ever celebrated Day of the Dead?