So many years ago, I used to write almost every day, I had a beautiful place to work, full of light and filled with all the good energy in the world. I painted the Magdalene and helped people pursue their dreams and taught kids art. I created murals and books, and went wherever I was invited. I was living my dream and loving my life.
Little by little that blessed life changed, but it was still good. Really good and free. I used to lie in bed and night and say: "I'm so grateful for my bed!" It was a symbol of the comfort and softness of a life that allowed my soul to rest and create. I was grateful and fully conscious of how privileged I was to be able to do what I loved.
And now I don't have that bed, and every object belonging to that life, including my paintings, is sold, scattered or hidden in storage, and I not longer know where anything went. I reluctantly surrendered my apartment and studio when almost 2 years ago, my life took an abrupt turn. I tried to keep my freedom and preserve my lifestyle by going to Puerto Rico while the storm passed, but because the process of getting our house back to normal extended for so long, in the end, I had to give in in and do what responsible people do in this situation: get a job.
It's been very difficult, in every sense. I wake up early, get dressed, and go to work. Then I arrive, eat, and sleep. I read and watch shows online. The routine pushes me forward, but little by little, my soul has been staying behind.
I have learned a lot, and been rewarded with much love from the children I serve as director of an after-school program. I have tried to do my best and accepted every challenge. But I feel so different, like this is another person, and the artist in me is lost.
One of the consequences of my long and tiring day is that I end up without the energy to check my personal email. A few days ago, I woke up at 2 am and couldn't go back to sleep. I decided to look at my email after many days. I found 2 important emails lost in all the others: one for writing a couple of educational children's books this summer. This is a reminder that my experience and skills can still free me if I give them attention. And the other from a woman who has attended the Mary Magdalene Celebration and other events in honor of Mary Magdalene I have organized in the past.
She had written before, asking me if I would celebrate it this year. I explained my current situation and said I would try. I even began planning, but the routine and my exhaustion took over. But when I found her second email, I felt like I should listen, and remember.
In the past, organizing the Mary Magdalene Celebration has been a way to call into my life what I want and need. Friendship, collaboration, and artistic expression are the gifts of the Magdalene in my life. I organize and celebrate this feast with an open heart and an open mind in order to honor the Magdalene's presence in my life during the last 19 years.
And this year, I needed it more than ever. Even if small, even if last minute, even if I don't know exactly what will happen there or what will be offered.
I decided to listen, and do it.
I wrote a text message to my friend Leticia Rodriguez, who has helped me get a space in the past through the organization she directs, The Puerto Rican Cultural Heritage House (La Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña, Inc.) She replied right away and called me with possible dates. Once we chose the date, I wrote to Corazón Tierra, a friend who has collaborated with a unique dance piece she has created and performed at the Mary Magdalene Celebration for several years now. She replied right away that she would be there to perform her dance. Then I remembered that Raquel Z. Rivera, who can't attend this year, had originally collaborated with Sandra Garcia Rivera when recording her CD, 7 Songs of Praise for the Magdalene, and that Sandra had returned to New York some time ago. I wrote to Sandra asking if she would come sing a song. She said yes. I also found energy to continue working on some small paintings that I had started a while ago and was not able to finish. That was all between Sunday night and Monday night.
Grace is carrying us into the future. We only need to take the first step.
This Celebration will not be grand like the last 2, but it will be heartfelt and intimate. There will be just a few paintings, a few people, a few artists, but it will be. It will be a celebration honoring the saint, the loving energy, the guide and inspiration of the Magdalene.
All are welcome. Here is the invitation text message I sent to my friends and contacts on my phone on Monday night, and it's for you too:
Your loving presence is requested in ❤The Promise: Offerings for the Dark Magdalene. An Intimate Mary Magdalene Celebration, conceived in a moment of inspiration for healing the soul of the artist.❤ Wear red, and bring your loving creative offering and a friend. Sunday, July 21, 7 pm, El Barrio Art Space Black Box Theater, hosted by La Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña.
Se pide tu amorosa presencia en ❤ La Promesa: Ofrendas para la Magdalena Oscura. Una Celebración de María Magdalena íntima, concebida en un momento de inspiración, para sanar el alma artística ❤ Usa algo rojo, y trae tu ofrenda creativa y llena de amor y a un@ amig@ Domingo, 21 de Julio, 7 pm en El Barrio Art Space Black Box Theater, gracias al apoyo de la Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña.