MIGRANT WISDOM. -

By Roberto Dansie

 

To make a home in the world requires some skill. But to make of the world our home takes even greater skill. And yet, this is exactly what migrant wisdom has taught us across the ages. No boundaries: the whole world is our home.

Just like the salmon, born in sweet water, travels around the world and finds his way with his inner compass, and the monarch butterfly travels thousands of miles and finds, always its sanctuary, in the same way, the migrant follows the currents of life and destiny.

I was told, as a child, that the first Mexicans discovered their identity when they left their ancestral land, Aztlan. They called that which was in heaven, and earth and everywhere "Mexi", the Great Spirit. "Mexica" meant him or her who follows God. It was, right from the beginning, a spiritual way of life. From this perspective, the entire earth was felt as "tonantzin" which means our mother. With this understanding, no matter where one finds himself, one is home.

Mystics from around the world have given us testimony of their sense of togetherness with life and nature. Saint Frances knows that the sun is his brother and the moon his sister. He speaks of brother wind and sister air. His family is everywhere. When the birds sing, he recognizes their song. When the flower blooms he feels in her his same life. The farmworker knows this from the tomato, from the peach, from the lettuce. They find the life that lives in us all.

The birds sing, every morning. Their song carries harmony along the day. "Buenos Dias" they say, and they bless you with these worlds. It's plural. "Good days", which means that they wish you a good day even on those days when they don't see you. You are not alone. Someone already wished you a good day for today. That goodness is there already waiting for you, from the moment you wake up. The earlier the better. You have been told, "El que madruga, Dios le ayuda" rise early and God will help you.

There is a certain devotion to doing your task with skill and impeccability. The floors shine, the beds are flawlessly made, the roses bloom; the grass manicured, the fields sharp, the tables precise: art shines everywhere. So much for so little. Because it's a matter of doing everything "bien hecho" the right way. And there is generosity. There is pride in giving you the best meal, the best drink. The best of everything. If you are the guest, you are an ambassador of the divine. And when you leave they say "vaya con Dios" or "Adios" which means you return to God, even if you have forgotten where you came from. The culture knows.

You ask a question, and they take time to answer. If the answer is complex, they take time to make things clear. You are more important than time: that is what it means to be sacred.

It is wonderful to see that somewhere, someone has preserved his humanity. Migrants do this for the world. At a time when others are confined to nationality, status or position, migrants quietly affirm "I am human." Everything that we do must begin with this, and everything that we accomplish, without this is meaningless.

Cesar Chavez was not eloquent: he just spoke the truth. When he was happy, he smiled. When he was sad, he cried. He was transparent. When he fasted, he felt the pain of others out of his own free will. Those who had it hard knew that he could relate to them, yet his eyes showed more than pain. Migrants know something about deep love. When you have, share. When you don't, give of yourself. A migrant knows he has a self to give.

This was a migrants' dream: From the field to every field. Let us all rise. "Si se puede!" Yes we can!

And yet, the migrant knows that there is death, illness, misfortune. And just like in the celebration everyone is welcome to share in the joy, it is in adversity that the gregarious spirit of the migrant comes together, the bell of the soul calling upon everyone. The migrant knows something of the alchemy of life: that pain shared is pain reduced.

Rituals continue to chart the life of the migrant. They are there in the harvest and the planting; they are there when life begins and when it departs; they are there as we greet and when we say goodbye; they are there for sorrow and joy; they are there in days and in ages, for moments and for generations. They assist you along the stages of life and they help you to age gracefully. Migrants know how to become adults and how to grow old without fear. They well know that aging is a privilege that not everybody gets.

The migrant knows how to live the mystery of life, the wisdom of insecurity: No one -they tell us- has promised tomorrow. Like a well tuned piano, they know that life is going to play every note, and while they have preferences they have no attachments. They live life with a passion. Just look at those colors and go into those flavors! The spice brings tears and the sweet humming. The piñata is treated so tenderly but there is no hesitation when the time comes to break it. Every child knows that all of which is good in the world can fit within a single piñata.

Eating is always a celebration at a migrant's home. Rare is the migrant who eats alone, and even those surround themselves with invisible loved ones. Here and there you find photos of loved ones and somewhere a candle burns for those who are far away or on their way to heaven. Someone has prayed for everyone, even those who have lost their way.

There are those who from their abundant foolishness have gleaned much wisdom. And they impart their lessons to anyone in need of their words. They don't moralize, and they don't give instructions. They just share their stories and their soul finds the way to others soul. Because silence does not bother them their words sound timeless. They seem to have been able to purged hurriedness out of their lives and in its place the world beyond now and then emerges. There is space in their world, you can hear yourself think. Their heart is like a still forest. And when they act, they become one with their action measuring their effort in tasks rather than hours.

Migrants believe in miracles. Because they believe in them they happen. In some of their temples you can find small figures of legs, arms and heads with the words "thank you for divine favor." They know that the Spirit heals, that prayer works. And when it does, they acknowledge it. Some of them embark on pilgrimages of gratitude. Others go to sacred places to keep an agreement with the Spirit and change their lives. God is real for them. Alcohol, drugs, violence, are removed from their lives. And although they have done their part of effort, they know that their peace is an act of grace. Their ego serves then the Spirit; the eagle devours the serpent as they undergo the transformation of re-birth. Only then can they exercise "paz-ciencia" the science of peace. From then own they cultivate the flower of the heart "la flor del Corazon." From then on, his life becomes a path with a heart. You will not find a higher way of life than this one.