Saturday, December 22, 2012

My computer memory recovery process was faster than I could have hoped!!
 Posada in Pescadero
Pescadero is a small village right on the central coast.  Every year the community holds a celebration of “Los Posadas", a traditional nighttime reenactment of the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter. This year my wife, Judy and I came to join in.

Un angelito
The story of Los Posadas has special meaning for “Los immigrantes” the people who have come from Mexico and Central America seeking a better life working with the crops of California.  The story speaks to anyone who has felt like an outsider …anyone who has felt like they don't understand ‘the system’ and they are in need of help.  It also speaks to those of us in a position to offer help, but don’t.  The one we are turning away may be a very special person that we don’t recognize.

The 'Three Kings" waiting for the procession to form

Two angels and a shepherd waiting to 'form up'

The gathered community forms a procession, which symbolically visits homes asking for shelter. Both the Anglo and the Latino communities of Pescadero participate, both the Catholic and the Protestant churches and those in neither, the entire community take part.  The people gather to make up a procession, guitar players lead the way, some people dress to fill the rolls of the key players in the Christmas story, and we stroll down the empty village street singing the traditional Mexican Posadas songs (conveniently printed out for us Anglos). 
Mary and Joseph and an angel

Three singers representing the house that rejects Mary and Joseph

We stop at several prearranged houses and ask for shelter, but we are refused… until finally we arrive at ‘the place of shelter’.  Here the “innkeeper” welcomes us in and makes us comfortable.  This year we started at St. Anthony’s Catholic church and ended at the Pescadero Community Church… where a fine community service had been put together by local people from both church communities.    
Warm and dry inside the church
It was a special twist this year that the event took place in a driving Pacific December rainstorm.  The little “angelitos” held umbrellas, and someone covered the guitar players.  Those without umbrellas crowded in with those who had one – making little clusters of people walking together.  But these Pescadero folks take such weather in stride and it did nothing to slow down the spirit of the event!
The guitar players and music leaders
After the gathering at the Church we progressed on to the village dance hall built as the Portuguese community center…  The hall was festive with light and color, Spanish language music was playing, and Mary and Joseph, the wise men and shepherds all marched to the front stage to hold court for people who wanted to have their picture taken with them.  
Tamales, rice, and Atole for everyone!
At the back of the hall they started handing out plates with tamales, Spanish rice, and plastic cups of Atole, a traditional Mexican hot beverage made from corn… (All offered without charge for everyone – thanks to the generosity of some churches and individuals).  We feasted and talked to people we knew and made new acquaintances.  We especially enjoyed being reunited with friends from the Palo Alto community.
The community gathering to relate and talk
At some point Mary and Joseph and party got to come down and enjoy tamales too … and a bit later who should arrive but Santa himself!  Oh my goodness – there were big eyes everywhere among the children.  
The long line of kids and parents  waiting to see Santa and get their sock of toys
Santa is holding up a sock of toys to give to the girl
He made his way to the stage where he invited kids to come sit on his lap.  He had large felt stockings filled with gifts for each child. (Various churches in the Bay Area have been filling those stockings for weeks…)
At the end a raffle to see what gifts the lucky winners might receive " Why dont you draw my number".
By now the hour was growing late and Judy and I had decided that we did not want to drive the winding Pescadero road at night in the wind and rain – so we had made reservations to stay in a kind of bed and breakfast place a bit out of town.  We have a separate little house about the size of a two-car garage.  It is made of rough sawn planks – but had a pleasant design and a lot of windows all looking out over beautiful expanses of hills and forests.  We slept the night with a steady pouring rain drumming on our roof.  What fine music falling rain makes when you can hear it all night!
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