I was a bit pressed for time today, and tempted to forego today’exercise. Rather than disregard it all together, I chose to write about a similar topic that I wrote about yesterday: grandparents.
I chose to write a short essay on what my grandmother taught me about religion. Here’s the introduction:
WHAT MY GRANDMOTHER TAUGHT ME ABOUT THE DHARMA
My eighty-three-year-old grandmother was recently in Los Angeles, having flown from El Salvador to visit the family. I met her for the first time when I was fifteen years old, and she had come back with my grandfather once before, back in 2007. This is the first time my grandmother’s visited on her own since he passed on to the endless azul, and after her three-month stay, she leaves me with many memories. She loves Cheetos, for example, and the kid’s meal from El Pollo Loco. She also insisted on washing her clothes in the swimming pool because it removed stains much better. On more than one occasion, she demonstrated how to make pupusas and laughed, covering her mouth with her hand, whenever the masa stuck to my palm. (I never managed to get it right, by the way.)
My abuela also taught me about religion, in more ways than one. In my mind’s eye, memories bubble to the surface: there she is again, kneeling at the foot of her bed before sleep, whispering the names of her grandchildren as she prays. There she is, cheering on the Israelites while watching The Ten Commandments for the fourth time in a week. Behold my grandmother, sitting in the living room well after midnight, reading the Bible while wearing my grandfather’s old glasses. I’ve quietly observed her more than once, watching her squint with the book just grazing her nose, her lips moving silently as she read.
From Amós to Zebedeo, the Creation to the very last Horseman, my grandmother knows her religion. A practicing Buddhist, one would think that it was difficult for me to relate to her on a spiritual level. Ironically enough, I feel that in some ways she’s taught me more about religion in three months than I’ve learned chasing enlightenment for five years.