Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Santo Domingo

There is no need for Blue Laws banning commerce here on Sundays. The city is shut down tight every Sabbath. Only the occasional small stores, called "colmados", selling the bare essentials of life such as water and beer and fruit and salted codfish are open. The colmados are a great luxury of life here. With only a phone call, they will deliver to your home the very thing you are missing, the five gallon bottle of purified water, the onion, the liter of milk. The birds are louder than the traffic.

It is a pleasure to be in the city on Sundays. It is also a joy to make the space ready for the arrival for the other Friend in anticipation of Meeting.

Christopher Columbus actually landed what is now Haiti in 1492. Then the Christians started their tradition of behaving like savages in this hemisphere. After only a few years, they figured out that the native Indians here would simply not make suitable slaves and started importing Africans.

This nation is officially Catholic, having signed a deal with the Vatican under Trujillo. The Vatican also signed a deal with Duvalier. Somehow in Haiti, Christianity never quite completely took over. Voudo was always practiced. or at least respected by a large portion of the population. The Catholics tolerated it/ Aristide legalized it. The Protestants, at least a great many of the Evangelicals, consider it to be the work of Satan.

The Evangelicals make regular mission trips here, bringing gifts for the poor, repairing buildings, teaching the Gospel. I don't know quite what to make of them. Most of the Evangelical churches here are very patriarchal, very fire and brimstone, preaching the Word with a sword. Yet I have heard Dominicans say that if someone says that they are "Christian" it means that they are "Evangelical" and that they "really believe".

We have a large quantity of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and 7th Day Adventist, and all types of free lance missionaries sent by their congregations. There is a large Baptist Church which even has an English service. There is an Episcopal Church with a small seminary which has a service in English and twice monthly shares with Union Chucrh services which uses the Armed Forces Book of Prayer. I attended for a year but it was a stretch for a Quaker.

In the end, I had to acknowledge that I am not a Christian. I do not believe in the scapegoat theory of the life of Jesus. I believe that my sins are my own and I alone will answer for them. I am not washed in the blood of the Lamb, nor do I wish to be. But I do love the story and read the book with interest, along with poetry of Rumi, Bagadavita,and the Course in Miracles.

I then went over to meditate with the Yoganada group but found that I could not indeed, bow to and follow the guru. Nor did I wish to travel cross town to sit with the Buddhist.

So it was with great delight that I was contacted by the searching Friend in January. Every Monday we receive any messages that may have been delivered back in my home Meeting in Asheville, NC. Since we are, in fact, only 300 miles further away from Asheville than Philadelphia is.

And Light knows no distance.

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