I was most looking forward to the singing.
After two years of muting ourselves on Zoom while Claire Hitchins led us on guitar—I was eager for harmonies, rounds, the feeling of voices vibrating and echoing in a room.
And yet, I was hesitant, wondering how we’d bridge the distances of language, culture, social location as 55 pilgrims gathered together in Mexico City from 14 states and 5 countries. Will we be able to sing one another’s songs? How deeply will we really be able to connect? But my fears dissolved with Gigliane’s
opening notes for the gathering mass, as we celebrated an inculturated Amazonian rite. We didn’t need to know the meaning of all the Portuguese lyrics to enter kairos time. Music became one of the many bridges throughout the gatherings. A trinitarian God offered as gift: present in the singer, the song, the gathering sound rising in the room.
Five beautiful, packed, luminous days were rich with conversation and encounter, delicious meals, inspiring liturgies, and the wisdom of women’s words gloriously proclaimed. The time singing together felt like it created and revealed the communion emerging and unfolding. Learning new songs became one way to deepen our
Gigliane Gomes Leite sings at the gathering mass on August 31st in Mexico City
shared prayer and appreciation for the cultures that have shaped us.
We offered personal sharing about the role of Mary in our disparate journeys of faith, and then turned to learn from the humble master, Fr. Padre Eleazar López Hernández, about the significance of approaching Our Lady of Guadalupe from the perspective of indigenous theology. Guadalupe—or as she called herself in Nahuatl, Coatlaxopeuh—is no static statue: but an image of a woman dancing, on the move, clapping her hands, moving her foot in rhythm with a sacred song.
Ven con Nosotros—we sang—Come with us as we walk, Santa María, ven! Come!
For those new to this well known hymn— the translation of the verses are a profound and prophetic prayer.
As you go through life / You are never alone / With you along the way
Even if some tell you / That nothing can change / Struggle for a new world / Fight for the truth
If in the world people / walk without knowing one another / Never hold back your hand / From the person who is with you
Even though your steps / may seem useless / If you make the way / Others will follow
Please enjoy this video of us singing it as part of the St. Phoebe Celebration Saturday evening!
This dancing, indigenous Guadalupe gives courage to Juan Diego as he faces powerful intermediaries and gatekeepers. Assuring him he does not face them alone—and so too, she assures us as we sing ven con nosotros, lucha por un mundo nuevo.
We concluded with the official anthem for the CEAMA assembly—a catchy tune best learned with this marvelous video (and full band!). Doris led us in the corresponding dance movements: again helping us to bring our whole body into worship, as we sing out that we are all called as missionary disciples on the way—always walking, never arriving. And so we pray in this Year of St. Phoebe, to be open to the in-breaking of kairos, God’s time: widening our vision, widening the road, strengthening our steps in a sacred, cosmic dance.