From the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Reflections magazine
September 19, 2017
Many men and women, girls, boys, and young people got out of bed on a normal ordinary day and never returned home.
They said goodbye to their families in the morning without knowing it would be their last kiss; they celebrated the Fifteenth of September, the eve of Mexico’s Independence Day, unaware that it would be their last holiday fiesta. They had plans to celebrate Christmas.
Now there will be empty places at the table, chairs unoccupied by those family members no longer present to enjoy the traditional Christmas Dinner.
This is how fragile our life is and yet it surprises us! You are blessed still to be here. Give thanks to God our Heavenly Father that you are alive and can hold your family close for one more day.
It is at times like this when you realize how great your love is for your family, for your friends. Start now to appreciate them, to show your concern for them. You never know when you will no longer see them, when you will kiss them and hug them for the last time.
My beautiful and beloved Mexico . . . We are still standing!
The Rev. Saúl Palafox
Diocese of Northern Mexico
from the Rev. Mary Earle
Doug and I have tender ties to Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca. I lived in Mexico City, doing graduate work, in the year before we married. He was finishing a degree at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula. Some of our courtship took place in those beautiful spaces in the capital — the Paseo de la Reforma (a wide boulevard so perfect for late night strolling for students on a budget), Colonias Condesa and Juarez (neighborhoods hard hit by the earthquake, and full of lovely older houses) and downtown around the zocalo.
When I remember Mexico City, I always remember us in our twenties, and the people (los chilangos, as the people of the capital call themselves) who were so kind and hospitable. Though we have visited Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca again and again over the years, that first encounter gifted us with a love of the places and the culture.
And so, when I read this short piece by my friend Saúl Palafox, an Episcopal priest, after a second earthquake hit Mexico on September 19, it struck me to the core. I know that happy anticipation of awaiting the celebration of El Grito on September 16, in honor of Mexico’s independence from Spain. I have such lovely memories of the preparations for Las Posadas, a Christmas tradition that is also observed all over south Texas. His words, coming in the aftermath of two earthquakes in Mexico, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the wildfires in northern California, reminded me to cherish each day.
Saúl’s observations also echo those sobering admonitions found in the readings for the first weeks of Advent—calls to watch, to be ready, to know that we do not know. Strong words, clear counsel, reminding us to live each day expecting to behold the glory of God. We do not know when or how our earthly lives will end. We do know that we are held tenderly and strongly in the never-ending love of God. “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake” (Mark 13:37).