Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 101

​ e made his way slowly from the kitchen to the small dining room where he H kept his papers in the antique mahogany buffet his wife, Olga, had inherited from her mother. On top sat old photographs, two large white candles in crystal candleholders, and at the center, below a reproduction of Dali’s bad-dream “Last Supper,” two objects: the gold crucifix that had rested on the open inner lid of Olga’s casket, and a silver statue of St. James, Santiago, holding a staff and standing on a rock, in front of a large sea shell. The patron, object of so many pilgrimages to the land’s end. ​ he statue had been given to Gil by his mother when he left Spain after the Civil T War. He had joined the Communist Party and was hunted down by Falangists. After eluding them for days he heard of a ship bound for New York, and some merchant seamen friends smuggled him on board. (Olga, the girl he’d met in a seaside café, would follow later.) Before he’d run off to the La Coruna shipyard, his mother had handed him the statue, and tearfully told him to pray for his soul’s salvation, as she wou ld, because he had renounced God. Gil was only concerned about saving his hide, but he took the statue. He never saw his mother again. ​ f course, his mother disliked the church: Gil’s head was full of tales of corrupt O and venal priests who sided always with the rich, the big landowners. But her faith wasn’t based on priests. Faith came from God, from our experience of life, his mother would say, not from priests, who had all the weaknesses of ordinary men, and more. ​ il himself had only recently started to understand his mother’s faith, which had G always seemed so pessimistic. For a long time, he’d believed there was a system, socialism, and a way of life closer to nature, that together would satisfy all needs and make the earth a perfect home. But now, deep down, he no longer believed it. ​ e lit the candles and tried to pray. He had at first found prayer ridiculous, H begging like a servant woman to her master, until he began to see it as speaking what couldn’t be spoken to other people. And then listening to the quiet that surrounded the words, as if the words were the shadows the candles cast and the silence the light. This was still all he could understand about God. ​ oday he spoke aloud about asking for his neighbors to fight as they had years T ago, and maybe get themselves in trouble. Was it right? It was a matter of 101