Jan 14, 2008

Waiting for God in Havana

Even though my parents and grand parents always have had this rule that "in my house we don't discuss politics or religion" (especially at dinner time); from time to time I just can't help to dive into those dark waters...

A few days ago, while reading a wonderful post at Babalú, Alberto de la Cruz, the blogger, took me directly to my quest for God; again.

I --a child of THAT revolution-- went back to my life in Cuba, where I grew up having the word "religion" in the Manual of the Forbidden Terms. And, as usual, ended up asking myself whether God have been looking over me all these years, although I have no idea what to do when I step into a church.

Then I felt sadness while wondering if I still would have time to make up that loss; that loss caused by the political regimen I grew up in. It was not my choice, it was theirs.

I am la generación del hombre nuevo. I belong to that total failure that Castro's regimen has always wanted to portrayed as one of the revolution's successes.

I was one of those children whose parents didn't baptize because they feared the consequences; the things that could happen to you if someone from the CDR knew you were at church baptizing your children, the way you could be marginalized in you work if they were informed of that.

I am the cousin of a very smart girl that was not accepted in the preuniversitario de ciencias exactas (specialized high school, focused in deeper instruction in sciences) in Pinar del Río, because she went to church every Sunday.

(That same girl that today is a professor of some king of super-high-tech nuclear physics in la Universidad Complutense de Madrid; I'm telling you, she is brilliant!)

I am that generation that witnessed how other students were closely watched in school because the would get together to pray and how they called contrarrevolucionarios all kids that went to school without pañoleta, because their parents were Jehovah's Witnesses.

We were instructed not to talk or hang out with them; they were the pariahs. And I remember, as early as elementary school, that I wondered why those kids in my class always had those sad eyes, that languid look of someone that is lost in the middle of so many people.

At some point, I remember I would blame my parents, trying to held them responsible for something they weren't.

Thanks God, when I opened my eyes, I realized it was something much more complicated; it was not my parent's fault, it was just another form of repression of my liberties that I inherited from being born in a country slaved by a dictator.

All that I had left were the traditions my grandma and my Mom always kept at home, sometimes whith closed doors, just in case.

I did try to make it up when the Pope John Paul II visited the island, I swear I paid attention to every detail of his speeches but, most of the time, I was totally clueless.

That's way I feel that, in real life, we've just not lost another voice with Jaime Ortega's position all these years... I truly believe we never had it. At least, we never had the same way Catholics have the support of their churches all the time, no matter the government in the power.

For more than 50 years, religious persecution in Cuba have been the norm; and there is no lie in the joke that some make saying that santeros used to keep their saints hidden in the closets.

The result is that, we, these bizarre hombres nuevos, are a generation that, in its majority, does not have a strong connection with their faith.

Deep in our hearts we know God is up there, caring for us.
But in real life, we weren't taught the values, the norms, the customs, the basics of nurturing our faith, no matter the church or the religion you choose.

I, personally, haven't been able to get over the anger towards that regimen that took away from me the basic right to believe in whatever I wanted to.

They tried really hard to replace God with their nonsense communist ideas. But I will never be able to forget that, by doing that, they also destroyed the family that makes the heart of every society, they destroyed the civics values of my generation and that damage is going to be the hardest to repair.

In the meantime, I'm still walking through the Lord's ways, searching for a safe place to put my faith and trying my all means to raise my child in an environment where God is loved, even through non traditional methods.

The best of all is that he is NOT a child of that revolution, he won't face his Mom's quest for a faith to go through this life. He won't needed it and that makes worthy every single sacrifice I've made since I left my homeland.

I will always worry about my soul, but I don't have to worry about his.


Melek said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing! My heart goes out to you and my fellow compatriotas who had to endure and are still enduring communism. This is heartbreaking. I wish more people outside Cuba were better educated and aware of the realities of Cubans under almost 50years of repression and lack of basic human rights.

Cubanita, there's not a right way to love God, you are already on track, just by the mere fact that you acknowledge his existence! Moreover, remember that “True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess." One of my favorite writers is Khalil Gibran. He had a saying about how connecting with God and finding his Truth was comparable to reaching the center of a house with many doors. Not one door was the "right" one.

We must remember that at the end it's really between us (individuals) and God and it's never late to start a relationship ... you seem to be doing just fine! God Bless You!

I wish you well :) Melek

"Life without liberty is like a body without spirit." ~ Kahlil Gibran

Cubanita in Colorado said...

Melek, thanks for the kindness of your words; they really help in those "tought" days one always have. And yes, deep in my heart I know there is not a "right" door; that's why I keep knocking.

Marta said...

I applaud you that in spite of the repression and the fear, you have not given up on God, just because of a dictate from the party.
Nicolas will grow up free to express his faith because of your suffering and sacrifice.
That's not to be taken lightly.
I commend you, my friend, for having the courage and brains to fight this fight.

The Hen said...

The human spirit is strong and beautiful...just like yours. Beautiful post and so informative.

Sassafrita said...

Wow. It always amazes me how they attempt to squash faith.