Monday, January 9, 2012


Votive candles in the Guadalupe Shrine near Lacrosse

Salma Hayek prayed  for big boobs as a prepubescent teenager.  Look at her now.  She's also married to a guy who's got a zillion bucks.

I injured my knee when I played high school football.  One night, I put some analgesic on the knee to reduce swelling and pain.  The analgesic contained something that made my knee even more painful with burning, searing heat. Forget about the painful, swelling knee. I prayed for the analgesic fire to go away.Eventually the burning went away as dawn's early light came through the window. 

As an adult, I learned that you can bring about, i.e. manifest, material world things if you learned how to  focus your thoughts.  In the Bible it says, and I paraphrase that sentence-Had ye but faith, ye can move mountains.  Forget about moving mountains.  I worked on finding parking places.  I noticed, too, that if something appealed to me, an offhand kind of..." hmm, I wonder what that is like" would sometimes bring results.

I think it worked once as I watched an attractive woman walking down the corridor of the elementary school I taught at. She showed up as a substitute teacher.  I was unmarried, available and on the prowl.  Hmm. I wonder what she's like ended up as, "Be careful; what you wish for!"  No further comment. 

A lifetime ago, after a tiring all-day journey, Dawn, myself and my oldest daughter arrived at our destination across Cancun Bay in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  My mother has just passed away. I needed a vacation.  The hotel we booked via travel agent was, unknown to us, up for sale.  The air conditioning didn't work.  The drapes were so dilapidated, the vinyl pleats stuck together and wouldn't close.  At 9:30 pm fast boats brought over tourists from Cancun to the beach next door.  They did the limbo dance to loudspeaker laden  rock n' roll for prizes of bottles of tequila obliterating any notion of sleep.  Dawn spent of good portion of the evening drinking Hurricanes with some snow mobile freaks from Oregon.  I got out of bed, put on my shorts and a T-shirt and went out on the beach to perform a dance I'd seen a Native American elder perform.  I'm shimmying around in a circle chanting a traditional prayer hoping to bring the Thunder-beings down on this viper's nest.  In my ineptitude, I forgot that my eldest is in an adjacent room.  It starts to rain.  Dawn comes out to the beach dressed in my clothes from the afternoon.  I guess she was pretty wasted from all those Hurricanes. "What'ye doin'? she asks.  Mumble, grumble, more mumble from me.  " Go back to bed," she says.  So much for Native American prayers.  In a few days after I'd learned how to "chill" it was a delightful experience.

Gavrillo's version of Our Lady.
     I have lived in and extensively visited the southwest U.S.  I am enamored of  Hispanic Catholic Saints-Santos as an art form.  I apprenticed to a famous santero who is a saint unto himself.  I learned how to carve and create traditional New Mexican Santos.  I found it curious that in the early days of New Mexico, when it was a territory, the people were forced to create their own religious iconography.  Without churches, when one didn't see a priest for six months, one was forced to rely upon their own devices.  OK. This is a very simplistic explanation.  Sue me. In semi-arid New Mexico a farmer might pray to San Ysidro, the patron saint of farmers, ranchers and crops.
San Ysidro with praying angel. Sometimes the angel would handle the plow.
If a native New Mexican appealed to a santo for help and nothing happened, punishment in the form of turning the saint to the wall or closing it up in a drawer could result.

Hopi Kachinas
The Hopi have a similar spiritual practice in their creations called kachinas. Like the santo, kachinas are made from cottonwood root. The kachina is a vital component of the Hopi cycle of life and spiritual tradition.  One of the most moving experiences in my life was a Hopi corn dance.  Fifty corn kachinas slowly revolving in a circle singing a low, guttural chant was more than a spectacle.  I could feel the kachinas pulling energy from the earth.

I have a tendency sometimes toward flippancy.  If what I have said previously seems to negate the power of prayer, I have led you astray.  I'm not asking you to believe in or to ascribe to any thought process, religion or spiritual practice. I'm not asking anything, period.  I'm trying to convince me. Moi.  In a crisis such as I'm facing, I need strength and help from all corners.  The power of positive vibration. The power of focus.  Most of all, the power of humor in it's wonderfully deviant ways.


T. Roger Thomas said...

Glad to hear that you're hanging in there.

I hope things improve quickly.

snoringdogstudio said...

You're in my prayers, Gavrillo. Each day I wish for your quick recovery and good news for you. I think this blog post sounded very much like a prayer to me. All my best thoughts coming your way.

I love your sculpture, by the way!

Gavrillo said...

Thanks, y'all.