COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
SPECIAL LENGTH COLUMN
FEBRUARY 17, 2010
The Huehuetlahtolli of Maria Molina
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Maria has a cargo. A sacred cargo. How do you translate that? It’s not
something physical, but it is akin to a bundle.
I cannot tell you what’s inside of it, but it is something greater
than its contents. Some of the things are unknowable. Others have no
name. Yet, what she carries inside it are ancient instructions. More
than that, she carries a responsibility and a sacred obligation to her
family, community and to humanity. You might think that inside this
sacred bundle there are precious stones, seeds, sage or copal. There
might be that, but more than that, there are gifts. Gifts that she has
received and gifts that she freely gives.
One gift that she possesses is the gift of Tlahtolli – the gift of the
word and the gift of In Xochitl – In Cuicatl – Flor y Canto. Flower
and song. Poetry.
She also speaks clearly and naturally.
She speaks with truth in her eyes, with flowers in her hands and music
from her heart.
With her words, she inspires. With her words, she soothes.
I still remember the first time I heard Maria speak in public, giving
guidance – Huehuetlahtolli – to a young woman, a runner that was set
to run the length of the continent, from Alaska to Panama. Other
runners would be running from South America to Panama as part of the
Peace and Dignity Journeys to once again fulfill the prophecy of the
eagle and the condor – the unity of the continent, north and south.
That evening, she spoke of Inixtli – In Yollotl – the heart and the
face. It was something I had learned more than a generation ago. That
evening, as she was sending off this young warrior woman, I didn’t
just hear the concept, I saw it… the meaning of Inixtli – In Yollotl.
Cara y Corazon. The Face and the Heart. I saw it in both their eyes.
In the past couple of years, I have seen other gifts that she carries
in that bundle… that responsibility that she carries… a responsibility
that she actually shares with her husband , with her children… her
other precious cargo. I am a generation older than Maria. She could be
my daughter. They could be our children. Yet despite the age
difference, I respect them fully as I see them as co-equals. More than
that, I see them as bearers of that sacred bundle. They are carriers
of tradicion, danza, and ceremonia.
In my own bundle, I carry but the Tlahtolli and sometimes, the
Huehuetlahtolli, the Antigua Palabra or ancient word. That is why I
write this, to tell you of Maria, and her family. They are part of
Calpulli Teoxicalli of Tlamanalco, Arizona, also known as Tucson. I am
not a member of this Calpulli, though I have the great honor of
running with them – on the Barrio Runs – spiritual runs that go
through the heart of Tucson’s historic barrios. I’ve also had the
privilege of having them speak in my classrooms at the University of
Arizona. For years, they’ve opened and closed different and
innumerable functions with ceremonia, on campus, at schools and
throughout the community.
I can affirm that I do not have the same commitment or the same
responsibilities as they. They do what many of us don’t, can’t or
won’t do. I do not apologize for that. That is what makes us unique.
As I once told Maria: “If we both had the same responsibilities, there
would be one too many of us.” That’s why I appreciate and respect the
duties she has assumed, just as other Marias have assumed these same
duties in other barrios across the nation.
Today, Maria carries another bundle, a most special and sacred bundle…
she is almost 13 moons… just days from bringing another precious human
being into the world, a little grandfather, a little grandmother.
As a community, we all take care of each other. These are our ways.
Currently, friends are raising funds so that Maria can deliver her
special bundle, her sacred bundle, at home. When I spoke to Norma
Gonzalez recently (a member of Calpulli Teoxicalli), I asked her about
how the effort was going. She related that but a third of what was
needed had been raised. “After all they’ve done for our community, you
would think we would have raised more.”
“We will,” I replied, “as soon as people become aware of their own
responsibilities and obligations.” We all know the difficult times we
are living in, but the gifts that Maria has given through the years
cannot be quantified. This is beyond what insurance companies do not
cover. It is beyond the health care debate. It is about community
responsibility. It is about appreciating the sacrifices she has made
in her life for others. It is appreciating the open door that they
are, that they provide year-round, especially for those who come for
words, guidance, cleansing, healing and spiritual support.
Their open-door is year-round, yet there are two things in particular
that they should be especially thanked for. When our sister Consuelo
Aguilar passed on to spirit world last year, they provided that much
needed spiritual support to many in the community.
The other thing that Maria must be thanked for is their role this past
summer when the state attempted to eliminate Ethnic Studies (They’re
at it again this year). At that time, our community turned to Calpulli
Teoxicalli, precisely because they already run to heal our barrios.
They did not hesitate. Along with mostly youths, many of them from the
Social Justice Education Project and MEChA, many hundreds of us walked
from TUSD headquarters at the crack of dawn to Joaquin Murrieta Park.
From there, our community ran to Phoenix in 115-degree heat. Assisted
by runners from the Akimel O’odham and from the Yoeme community of
Guadalupe, we were then greeted by Nahuacalli-Tonatierra Embassy of
the Indigenous Peoples in Phoenix. There, we rested to garner our
strength for the next day where hundreds more joined us in our walk to
the state capitol. Not coincidentally, it was Maria’s words, time and
again, that represented the Calpulli. And of course, we won.
This is my relationship to Maria, Chucho and their Calpulli – peoples
who sacrifice of themselves, without profit, without gain, except to
Rodriguez can be reached at XColumn@gmail.com
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