Funny vignettes

“Dry rain”, “muscle bones”, examples of tired brain syndrome. But as if being obviously so tired that you come up with funny incongrous phrases was not enough of a sign that one should cease talking… we then spend a good hour debating why the phrase seemed logical at the moment it was spoken.  At the end of the hour we gathered that muscle bones was a bizarre way to say “cartilage” and “dry rain days” well it is now a meme in our family, because those do exist. We now all chuckle and distinguish between “dry rain days” and “wet rain days”. If  you want to know more about these climate conditions, feel free to visit.

Van Talks: Music Theory on the Go

On another day, another time, I was in the van driving kids off to some music class. I was on the main thoroughfare, about to get on the highway when I got lost in thought as I listened to Olaia and Jaimito start pontificating or musing, not sure which, but it went something like this “Respect the musicality of the past  and just want to forget the reductionist repetitive unimaginative progression of modern pop “moozik”. I listen, I know they putting into words their enjoyment of rhapsodies and contrasting the harmonies of the past to the over used 4 chord progression of so many modern pop songs.  Their level of music analysis is so beyond what I could repeat or expand upon.  Bizarre and fascinating to listen to my kids exchange opinions and ideas that are not mere echoes of us, their elders, but a reflection of who they are becoming the sum of their unique experiences. I love these gifts of every day life! Continue reading Funny vignettes

The Justice League Dropped by the Office

imageJavier is a lego building maniac that is constantly working on something. I have seen his lego restaurant with soda machine and bar area, kitchen and tables.  I have seen his robots and heard his cries of “no!!!!! You broke apart my creation before I took a picture”. Here we have his version of the “Justice League. See if you can tell which little bundle of block s is who.

Canola is a Good Peanut Butter Substitute.


This is not probably the picture a foodie was expecting. Furthermore, this does not look good. I know it might look angry. It is not. It is more like humiliating and funny and lovingly done. What on earth is going on? It all started with some chewing gum.

Now if you are an extreme and inventive chewing gum chewer, listen up. Asier, our 6 year old, like many other extreme gum chewers got crazy – must have been the new bursting at the seams powerful minty flavor but he just popped it out of his mouth and started exploring hand-chewing the gum, I guess. But because he is a very cool 6 year old, he was exploring this cutting edge chewing gum trick while casually laying back on our white leather sofa. Suddenly, before he even noticed it, his eyes were drawn to the video game being played by his brothers. In that short out of body experience, he forgot himself. He must have almost felt the fingers on his hand move and flitter about the vividly imagined controller. And then it happened.  He realized his hand chewing had met his disheveled hair that had been sticking up against the cushion and voilá! The recipe for disaster was complete.

The just desserts were beautiful though. He went to his dad. Confessed. Walked around the house embarrassed before his two older brothers. Until Javier, who is now 8 comforted him, “Don’t worry I already did that once.”  “You’ll just have to take a bath in peanut butter…” he added with an earnest look and mostly undetectable mocking tone. “I am going to have to take a bath with peanut butter!!!!” shrieked Asier, sure that his coolness rating was going to drop for sure.

At his son’s shriek, foodie hobbyist and master engineer of the house, quickly analyzed the chemical interaction that informed the previous “peanut butter takes chewing gum off by dissolving it”. He then posited the idea that canola oil might do the trick. Asier found comfort in his dad’s words and assented to being guinea pig for crazy foodie science. At least there was no bathtub and peanut butter scrub.

Jim asked for a plate and the canola oil.

There was no oil-boarding torture. Asier was resigned to his improved fate. He put his head on the plate, face down and putting his hands on the table. Meanwhile his big strong daddy was holding the huge family sized canola container so that only a light drizzle fell on the front of his hair. Asier rested his forehead now in the shallow pool of oil gathered in the plate and waited for the gum to loose its gumminess.

Next, Jim asked his loyal and amused assistants -Asier’s older brothers- for a fine toothed comb.  Gingerly the top portion of the hair was combed. The gum came off and only the slick hair styling of a 50’s greaser was left behind.  That Asier sure does know how to look good even when he is dripping in oil.

So now you know the rest of the story.  🙂



Wormie Dreams of Flying

This is one of those stories made up for my boys right before they go to bed. Right when their tired little heads are saying: “but I dont want to go to school tomorrow” or “but I am not tired”. And yet all is right with the world again after I capture their imagination with a story. I never know what the story will be about until I start. Tonight I started with a worm.

Once upon a time there was a worm who dreamed of flying. Everyday he would look out the window, see the leaves float by in the wind, watch the bees bumbling around and the wasps zipping elegantly crisscrossing the wind. You might think he dreamt was flying because he was a caterpillar but no.  He was no caterpillar. He was a regular black little worm.  His teacher would call his attention in schools and tell him, Wormie, the class is over hear, not wherever it is you are looking at outside that window. The teacher grew concerned and told Wormie’s mother, about his distracted classroom behavior.

One night, Wormie’s mother asked him, Wormie dear, what would you like to do you grow up? I would like to be a wasp and fly around the in the sky. But Wormie dear, you are not a wasp, you have no wings. You are meant bring air into hardened muddy compacted soil, airate the soil, my dear not be flying in the air, you silly boy!” Mom  but why not? Why must I be and do what you expect.

The following day,Wormie walked to schools with his best freind Cate the Caterpillar. He told her about his talk with this mother. He knew that Mrs. Busy Bee has surely put her up to it. Cate felt bed for Wormie and said, Maybe one day when I am able to fly I can come and give you a ride. Oh, thanks Cate that would be splendid. But Wormie wanted more.  He wanted to do it by himself, to be master of his destiny and builder of his own means to fly.

Later that day, as he sat in school looking out the window he realized that the best way to do what he wanted was to show them how it was done. Science and engineering! That was his way. Once he was clear on what he wanted he knew why he was in school. Mrs. Busy Bee never again called his mom. He worked hard and got good grades. With nobody on his case, he had time to explore his interests in his free time.

One afternoon as he was studying the flight mechanisms of things in the air he saw a wasp, stop for a few seconds. Wormie built up his courage and asked: Mr Wasp, sir, how does it feel to fly?

Feel? to fly? What on earth do you mean?

Does the air tickle? Does the wind roll you and push you like a wave? How does the world look from up there?

By golly, boy, I have never stopped to think such foolish things! I fly because I do. I do what I must. I am always rushing from one place to the next, making sure the food gets to the hive and that the hive gets built. Flying is stressful, its work, its not whatever silly idea you have. Keep your feet on the ground worm boy! Keep your feet on the ground!

Wormie was so surprised. That was not the answer he expected. He was a little heart broken in fact. He had always admired the wasp’s elegance and mastery, but the wasp was not even aware of what luxury he had. He could ride the wind and see the world at a distance, he could be free, and yet he did not know it or see it.

But this did not discourage Wormie. Wormie knew, what he knew. In his heart in his mind he had a clear vision of what and how flying would be and it was up to him to show others what it was he saw. Wormie studied hard. He became great at math, great at art, he asked questions and was constantly reading to find new answers.

One day it hit him, he would build a wind-surf-rider. He found a nice sturdy leave and punctured it with another. He pushed them off a tree brach and watched them fall. He did this many times, changing his methods and his design every time  just a little bit. Until one day he saw the leaf board contraption actually ride the waves of the wind.  That was it!

The next time he jumped on the leaf made into a wind-surf-rider. The first time he did so, it did not go as well. But then, that never stopped him before. Then one day, the design and the machine were able to carry Wormie and ride along the wind. Wormie felt the wave dropping and rolling and looking around for signs he was able to catch the next wave of wind. And the sport of wind-surf-riding was born.

From up there in the waves of the wind, Wormie saw his old school. He waved hello to Mrs. Busy Bee, who proudly waved back. Wormie turned around and saw his mom, coming up for air from the earth. The sun’s light shined behind Wormie, but that just made Wormie glow. His mommy was so proud. Nobody could have foreseen this. Nobody could have imagined it. Before he knew it, Wormie had customers. Other bugs wanted to be able to see earth from above and feel the waves of the wind underneath. Even Mr. Wasp came by once for a ride. “To ride the air without fluttering, what an incredible feat! Wormie had changed the how the air was seen and felt for all those in his bugsy world.  Not even the earth beneath their feet would be seen the same, thanks to Wormie.


Suffering Artist, Age 6

As I write I hear my child sobbing while dutifully exploring painting.  I never knew showing him the way to painting would be so painful.  He has always been so passionate and self driven.  But in this process I trust he will find his way to new and deeper understanding of the process of the way to progress and better tomorrows.  Still it breaks my motherly heart.

Javier told me one afternoon while driving around with me: I want to make a painting of a yellow flowered tree behind our house at dusk. It was a very specific request. I could sense he had a picture in his mind of what he wanted and how it would look. This tree does exist. It is a big old tree that he can see well outside his window, just beyond our house.

Before I could sit down with him to direct him, he had already drawn the trunk.  In his uncanny artistic sensibility he drew it off center but stopped because he did not know how to avoid the old childish ways of doing a big roundish ball on top of the tree. He brought me his drawing and said: How am I going to make the top? I told him he would not draw the shape of the top of the tree but first draw the skeleton of the tree, branches, big ones first and guess where they divided to build that general shape of the tree.  Then we would add leaves.

He came back to me less than an hour later. His trunk had veins, he had the branches that reached out in a whimsical fashion that matched the shape of that big ol tree. He had also drawn leaves and put himself in along with a couple of imaginary palm trees that seemed to sway in the wind. His drawing was beautiful. We all complimented his on a job beautifully done.

Then came the hard part. “Now,” I explained “you have to paint over it and do the background colors of  your painting. I took a piece of paper out and quickly alluded to his project. I talked him through the steps. “You want to cover the whole canvas. Think about the time of day and where the lighter and darker parts of the sky are going to be.  When it is morning you go lighter at the horizon to more intense blue on top, when the sun is going down, then it can be the opposite. It depends on where the sun sets. In our case the sun sets behind us.  We can put reds and purples on the sky to remind people the sun is setting. The grass will be dark. Cover the canvas and then play with the designs of the brush and the colors. Have fun.” I then painted on top of the background, a tree like his, leaves and flowers. I even painted his silver clouds and white bright moon. I showed him that with these paints, light colors can go on top of dark colors.

He listened intently and yet at every pause in my instructions he reached for the brush in my hand and quickly said, ” I understand, let me do it.” “I know how to do it now.” Then the time came when it was his turn. He started out well. But then he stopped. He started painting around the tree. I told him he had to paint over his tree and then draw it again but with paint. “Painting is not drawing. Drawing helps you know what you want so you can do it. But painting will always give you something different.” I tried to explain simply and to the point.

I left him to do other things and then heard sobbing. He had fallen in love with his drawing and now could not bear to paint over it. I tell him the drawing was practice to show him the way, how to use the space.” In tears he begs me not to make him paint over it.  I opened a big art book to show him how artists paintings do the same thing and that is why they don’t have white gaps around the edges. We looked at his previous painting examples and saw the white edges. He knew what had to be done and why and yet he cried.

He cried some more without an audience. Then there was silence. Half an hour later he came to me and said, “Mom, come look at my painting, I already finished the background. What do we do next!”  His excitement made it all better. It lessened my guilt for being a stern art teacher and mother that would not coddle him.  It did not feel good then, but I am sure through all this pathos he will remember we painted the backyard view together and his painting will be awesome.

Relfections on a Truth Lost in Translation

While preparing to guide the prayerful community meditation of the Stations of the Cross I turned to the Googleable archives on the Internet to find a text I could follow. Not just any text, ideally I wanted a text that had bible quotes, described the scene we would meditate and then offered a contemporary reflection with more questions than predigested wisdom. I searched and searched and searched over the period of 2 or 3 days. I remembered how painfully difficult it had been last year – of course, last year I made a mental note that I should create a booklet with the versions I find that suit the community and the context.  So there I was searching again.

In my searches I came across this text that I could best describe as excessively verbose flowery language that romanticized the way of the cross to a point that I found it offensively naive.  In my ignorance I attributed the text to some well intentioned soul attempting to put into sacramental language the last moments of his beloved Jesus.  Then I saw the same text surface in another search.  I attributed the coincidence to the common practice of quoting extensively and without permission between internet sites, which in matters of spirituality can be assumed to be content provided to the public domain free to use though it is simply immoral not cite. Then I came across the same corny depiction yet again:

When our divine Savior beheld the cross, He most willingly stretched out His bleeding arms, lovingly embraced it, and tenderly kissed it, and placing it on His bruised shoulders, He, although almost exhausted, joyfully carried it.

I searched for “joyfully carried it” and came to find that the words that I had mocked and scorned were from St. Francis of Assisi. Could it be? Of all the saints I could pick on, I had not expected to find me arguing against or rejecting the form of St. Francis’ spirituality, and yet here I was.

I was in the midst of writing to a priest to coordinate a Lenten Meditation for the parish when it occurred to me that if he needed a topic, maybe he could help me breach a gap in understanding. I wrote:

If you have a Lenten Season theme already developed that you wish to share with our faith community that would be fine. If you would rather be provided a topic…  I have a humble request:   As I gathered materials for celebrating Friday evening meditations on the Stations of the Cross, I was surprised by my discomfort or dislike (both terms seem a tad strong but words fail me) of the wording in the St. Francis of Assisi version of the Ways of the Cross.

One of the more challenging notions for me was to think that Jesus embraced his cross gladly, joyously. I can understand the gift of peace and I can envision peaceful resignation, but the freedom to be joyous in suffering is a foreign concept. I am not sure if this is a Jesus human vs Jesus divine quandary or a matter cross-cultural miscommunication or the need for translation services to properly convey his message. As it stands in reading the text I am left wondering “Is my path, his way of the cross if I am not joyful in my sorrow?” Where did this text that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi come from and how can it enrich our mundane way of the cross?

Alas, the visiting Jesuit theologian did not get my request but already had a topic of his own, so I was left to continue to wrestle with my unexpected criticism of dear St. Francis.  I had no problem receiving the cross, nor bearing it. It is the “joy,” the “kissing” and romantic overtones of  the loveliness of the cross that I am failing to grasp:

O dearly beloved cross! I embrace thee, I kiss thee, I joyfully accept thee from the hands of my God. Far be it from me to glory in anything, save in the cross of my Lord and Redeemer. By it the world shall be crucified to me and I to the world, that I may be Thine forever.

How can I reject St. Francis? This question was at the forefront of my thoughts, I began to hear and serendipitously  receive bits and pieces that would help pave the way to making peace with my dislike of St. Francis’ words.  A Truth, I am convinced, must be lost in translation. Somewhere between the middle ages and today, a Truth was lost.

That Sunday the sermon addressed the transfiguration.  Fr. Vega spoke Viktor Frankl’s concentration camp reflections and the human need to have a purpose. When we have a purpose and we have hope anything and everything is possible. In our Christian path it is through love and service that we find our purpose.  Vega also invited us to revisit what being in the presence of someone one loves is like, being and knowing we filled satiated and have a purpose.  The cost we would be willing to pay in order not to loose sight of that moment in time where we have love and purpose.  This is how Fr. Vega helped us understand the witnessing of the Transfiguration and the confusion that ensued as Jesus anticipated the inevitable end and separation. Who would want to loose that connection with the Divine, that moment? What would you do to keep it?

Because St. Francis was never far from my thoughts, my mind suddenly saw the flowery, romanticized language  in the light of a jilted lover unwilling to let go, to take anything to keep love’s comfort present. Was I to see St. Francis as a poet?  I can only see joy in a cross if the heart is so naive as to be in a state drugged by love into a aching dependence free of all other early cares.

After mass, a fellow parishioner shared with me a catholic magazine he had saved for me. It was a product of Franciscan Media.  It was an opportunity to get to know the voice of St. Francis. In it I found stories of St. Francis passed on as insights to who this medieval saint was. They portrayed him as a troubadour, singing int he forests of his time. He is the saint it seems for rich people who have yet to realize there is no joy, no satisfaction in accumulation of wealth, there is only an abyss, an emptiness that lavish, hectic lives cannot erase.  The idea picture of St. Francis of Assisi that then emerged was that of a man that converted from having all to having nothing, being a young bachelor with enviable parties to embrace being ridiculed and outcast. He had found the peace, joy and purpose he knew he could never find otherwise and was willing to pay any cost, not to let that satisfaction of communion with Christ out of his experience.

So through my reflection on the transfiguration, on the heavenly moments of being bathed in love and clear of purpose, I came to find St. Francis who having such clarity of conviction and such a complete conversion he saw joy no matter the cost in being able to share the hardship of service and love with Him.

Feeling like I was again understanding St. Francis, I returned to his reread his words and then am confronted, not with St. Francis love of Jesus and desire to be with Him, but rather, I suddenly see the face of Jesus who loved us so dearly, who understood and loved us so deeply that he did not want to separated from us. He gave his life to make His salvation ours. He burst open the gates of heaven that we may know and love and be one with Him and the Father in eternal glory.

When is it Good Friday?

In this entry I retell with a few touches of my own, a challenging and beautiful Good Friday Retreat lecture given by our dear Fr. Vega. I beg forgiveness if my retelling does not do him justice. I for one, just wanted to keep the ideas safe somewhere so I could someday share them with my kids.

For all the students out there: It is not once a year, and it did not just happen 2,000 years ago.

Let us begin by exploring the death of a philosopher. A mother and her four year child enter the supermarket. As they begin to walk the aisles she hears an urgent plea, “Mommy, mommy, look! Look!”. “No, not now” she replies as she tries to remember what is needed. Not five minutes have passed when in a very different area she again hears the little voice cry out: “Oh, wow! Mommy, look! Let me tell you! Please!” Time is ticking and she assumes she knows whatever it is he is marvelling at is another candy, another gimmick, so she flatly repeats “No, not now!” She is thinking to what she will cook that night, reviewing what she has cooked that week. She is rushing so that she is not late to pick up her other kids at school avoiding the heavy traffic leaving school. As she enters the milk and ice cream aisle, she again hears “This is awesome, Mommy, you got to see this! Mommy! Mommy! Look!” She is lost in thought trying to quickly plan her week so she wont have to return to the supermarket for a couple of days. At his insistent demands she finally says: “Quiet! Be quiet!” She finally reaches the cashier only to again hear “ooooh Mommy! Mommy let me tell you something.” is “Shhh be quiet!” she sharply replies with a hinted threat. “But why?” Finally loosing her grip on the situation she smacks him and states “because I said so!”

We have lost the capacity to wonder, to marvel and we shush it and kill it in the next generation whenever we silence the questions and rebuke the opportunities to dialogue and share the simple joys and wonders of a child. When we loose the ability to be amazed, surprised or wonder we are for all practical purposes dead. We may be biologically functioning but we have severed the conection to the awesome wonder of creation.

We are stuck mired in death and perhaps have locked ourselves into aour own hell. Mired in despair but rejecting the Joy that Easter is all about. So I go back tot he initial question, when is Good Friday? Probably for many of us, it was some day in our past, maybe it was yesterday, or this morning or maybe it is to come tomorrow. We have our own Good Fridays that are not unconnected to what happened to Jesus on the his way to Calgary. When we taste the humiliation, when we are unfair victims of wrongful judgement, when we experience loneliness and face death we share His cross.

A victim of jealousy, mocked for our morals and unable to find the words to defend ourselves we have are experience our Good Friday. Darkness has its hour when we are alone in our travails, alone faicing illness, disfigurement, death, caring for a loved one without hope of recovering, we are facing or own Calgary. When we are tied down in our freedom, when innocence and duty are seen as weakness and what we would want for ourselves we have to give to others, we are feeling Good Friday. When we face the inadequateness of self expressino, simphonies of silence, pain of knowning that mosto f what is best of us, what we know and can give will die with us we are feeling Good Friday. When we are made to feel shame for what we believe in, be comforted, we are not alone, we are feeling what Jesus felt on Good Friday. When you feel your youth leave, when we taste frailty and feer abandonment, our inevitable aging, our lack of fulfillment is our burden in our stations of the cross. We know this dark hour, we know Good Friday when all seems to fall apart and all we can do is wait. Wait for the darkness and death to have their hour. Embrace your darkness, but then GO BEYOND meet the darkness of the world. Become one, solidary with the darkness that colors the cries of mothers who have lost their children to senseless violence.

As we meet Good Friday we should strain to also hear the voices of this Day.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Gospel of Luke 23:34

When you are able to transcend the humiliation of being wrongfully or senselessly victimized, overcome the loneliness and the frustration and still say “I forgive” you are at Calgary with Jesus.

Lay your burdens at Jesus’s feet on Calgary and hear him say,

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Gospel of Luke 23:43

These words are meant to comfort you, an invitation to go on. Where and how do we experience Paradise? Look at Mary, in her frailty and strength, the terrible sadness of witnessing the death of her Son. The pain of the Son that has recognizes he is the cause of pain to his Mother.

“Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son”.
Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.”

Gospel of John 19:26-27

We are urged to take care of one another.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34

Jesus shares our humanity, he is Son of Man and as such faces death and despair, like we do when we experience Good Friday. In our Creed there is a single line that has created what a lot of recent reflection “And he descended into Hell”, it used to be explained as a statement that Jesus went to Limbo to save all the souls that had been waiting there since Adam. Now the Church in its Theology of the Descent to Hell, understands that Jesus in his humanity experienced Hell, like we do when we lock ourselves away, loose hope and turn away into a cycle of despair. Jesus was there too. We think God’s love will not reach us that we are beyond being saved, but there is NO Place where God’s infinite love does not reach. It is the unconditional love that saves, not our actions or our doing.

“I thirst”

Gospel of John 19:28

In a reaffirming statement of his human life, Jesus recognzies his needs. He places his demand at our feet. Death is inevitable but it is a call to share your needs and serve one another, even when living the darkest hours.

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished”;
and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.

Gospel of John 19:30

Upon being served by another, Jesus accepts the end of his physical life.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”:

Gospel of Luke 23:46

Jesus sends forth his Spirit which will live on after death. In Jesus’ death the voice of the Innocent lives on. Resurrection is in the voices that live on. Jesus’ death was on a lonely hillside. Disciples had left. A death in humiliation and powerlessness becomes showered in powe rand dignity that echoes in time. Upon His Resurrection his disciples’ declaration of faith, their creed can be summed in one line: Jesus is Lord. The Task we are given each Easter is to rekindle the creed with us. To strain to listen to the voices of Good Friday in our lives.

The information age has trapped us in cubicles, then given us electronic interfaces and firewalls to the point that we all endure Calgary alone. We are unable to serve each other or witness the thirst in each other. The Joy of Easter is reduced to bits and bytes, a shallow animated image with words that have become shallow and trite MIME. If you have lost your sense of wonder and are among the many walking dead, this Easter acknowledge your Stations of the Cross, embrace your Good Friday and when you meet Jesus in Calgary find your way back to the joy and wonder of Easter by celebrating together in a community tending to the needs of each other and declaring with joy that Jesus is Lord.


Free Markets and the Invisible Hand of Social Thought

After every market valuation bubble crash there are cries that capitalist system is broken and needs to be revised. There are accusations that we cannot just leave it to the invisible hand balancing the market. The common reaction is to call for more government intervention. However, if anything, I am advocating for free markets balanced not by increased intervention of government but by an invisible hand of social thought.

Like Adam Smith’s invisible hand that balanced the markets  by controlling demand and production rates without any specific intervention, the invisible hand I address is invisible because its agent is not a specific entity. The change it brings about in the market is not controlled or dictated by one source it is rather one based multiple sources with varying designs and needs that have a direct impact and control on the market.

Continue reading Free Markets and the Invisible Hand of Social Thought

Dressed in Illusory Robes: Selling a Solution that Misinforms and Creates Dependency

I have spoken before on the subject of technological imperialism. This concept uses the framework of imperial nations and colonized peoples to addresses how the consumer and social contract between vast technology multinationals and governments or private consumers. The goal of the imperial company is not to empower the consumer nor to educate and liberate them that they may be equals. Rather, the imperial multinational technology company builds its revenue model and projections on the expectation that inequality and dependence will continue.

I understand that associating technology giants with technological imperial powers may sound like I am advocating for a non-capitalist world or that I am against success. This would be an erroneous leap in judgement. As an entrepreneur I believe in free market competition. What I am speaking about however is the reproduction of inequality under the false guise of empowerment.

The following is an example of a multinational presentation to local government agency.  Continue reading Dressed in Illusory Robes: Selling a Solution that Misinforms and Creates Dependency

Celebrando la Navidad Recordando al Olentzero

Me recuerdo con cariño el día que me regalaron la estatuilla del Olentzero.  Un salón de quinto grado en Oiartzun supo por voz de amistades que cumplía años y uno de los estudiantes ofreció como regalo de la clase una figura pintada por su madre. ¡Qué mar de emociones! La sorpresa, alegría y vergüenza al desconocer la historia detrás de la figura que con orgullo me regalaban. Afortunadamente en el pequeño pueblo todos sabían que era nueva a los lares y a las costumbres así que las explicaciones, anécdotas, referencias mitológicas e históricas llovieron. Ahora una década más tarde me toca como parte de la vasta comunidad de descendencia vasca en el extranjero, que llevamos a Euskadi en el corazón, compartir con nuevas generaciones noticia de las tradiciones de la fascinante y bella tierra de los vascos.

Las maestras del prekinder de mi hijo, Javier Ignacio, deseaban presentar historias de tradiciones navideñas de diferentes partes del mundo. Para ello invitarom a padres y madres a compartir sus experiencias o conocimiento.  Con una mezcla de alegría y ansiedad ante la responsabilidad de representar algo que he atesorado en mi recuerdo pero que es vivido como tradición anual por cientos de miles…ofrecí hablar con estos pequeñines sobre el Olentzero.

En preparación al día de mi presentación busqué en el Internet sin gran éxito una versión de la historia del Olentzero que recogiera los cuentos que me ofrecieron durante mi estadía en Euskadi. Pero a mi pesar gran parte de lo que encontré enfocaba en la investigación de raíces paganas del Olentzero y en la recreación del cuento del Olentzero aislado de la celebración de la Navidad.  Aunque reconozco el valor de recrear y salvar las raíces vascas que precedieron la llegada del Cristianismo, no es menos cierto que la historia y la tradición del Olentzero son ejemplo de sincretismo, o dicho de otro modo ejemplo de la fusión cultural que es de esperarse en la historia pueblos en contacto con otros pueblos ya sea por vecindad, agresión o comercio.  El cambio es parte natural de todo ser humano y de los pueblos por eso me parece que  Olentzero sin Navidad o Navidad sin Olentzero no me parece representar al pueblo vasco de hoy.  Pero a falta de encontrar una historia que recogiera los temas cristianos que me fueron narrados, proveo a continuación mi versión del Olentzero a modo de honrar mi recuerdo de la tradición.


Esta es la historia, según me acuerdo, del Olentzero, un ser muy querido por el pueblo vasco. Allá las historias comienzan “Behin batean…” por acá en las Américas decimos:

Érase una vez, allá para los tiempos cuando los bosques eran lugares de misterio y magia. Dicen las leyendas que en los bosques vascos vivían hadas,  “prakagorriak” que quiere decir pantalón rojo en la lengua de los vascos y eran unos duendecillos pícaros conocidos por sus pantalones rojos, hablaban también de gigantes y otros tantos personajes fantásticos.  Las personas vivían en poblados pequeños y evitaban adentrarse al bosque, a excepción de los pastores y carboneros que pasaban gran parte del año fuera del poblado andando por las montañas y bosques. Cuentan que al llegar al pueblo los pastores y carboneros solían contar las peripecias y hazañas en el bosque.

Algunos dicen que el Olentzero era un pastor, otros dicen que era carbonero. Siempre que he visto imágenes de él lo he visto sentado o arrimado a una bolsa de carbón así que creo que la evidencia apunta a que era carbonero. En aquellos tiempos los carboneros vivían en chozas adentrados en el bosque. Durante el año trabajaban allí cortando árboles y partiendo el tronco en pedacitos para enterrarlo y hacer carbón vegetal.   Cuando entraba el frío del invierno y las noches se hacían cada vez más largas los carboneros bajaban al pueblo con su carbón en una gran bolsa.

Dicen que en un principio al Olentzero no le gustaban los niños y era algo gruñón. Quizás era porque al ver a este hombre de gran tamaño, barrigón, despeinado y manchado con tizne, se burlaban de él.  A nadie le gusta la burla y por eso quizás el mal humor del Olentzero para aquel tiempo. Todavía hoy día, cientos de años después, en la canción del Olentzero que se canta en el País Vasco cantan pedacitos de estas burlas. La canción habla de un cabezudo de poca inteligencia, barrigón y sucio. El Olentzero no era como decían las burlas. El era un hombre bueno y trabajador.  Pero les aseguro, que aunque así eran las cosas antes, el Olentzero, como escucharán, llegó a ser y es muy querido porque una buena noche todo cambió.

El Olentzero se econtraba en su choza en las montañas cuando de momento vio una luz extraordinaria llenar el cielo de la noche. En el resplandor sintió una voz que le decía: No habrá porqué temer. Ha nacido en Belén el hijo de Dios hecho hombre. Su vida sembrará amor y esperanza en la tierra.” Algunos dicen que la voz fue la de una hada, otros dicen que fue la voz de un ángel que entre los pastores de Belén incluyeron a nuestro carbonero en la buena noticia de esa noche.

Impactado por tan especial visita el Olentzero sintió su tristeza desvanecer y la alegría contagiosa nacer, pero no sabía que se esperaba de él. Al amanecer, el Olentzero salió a caminar a ver que había de diferente en el mundo. Buscaba entender aún el mensaje de aquella noche. En su largo caminar se dio cuenta que del bosque habían desaparecido el misterio y la magia. En su camino no divisó hada o ni gigante.

Tanto caminó, buscando entender, que llegó a un lugar que no había visitado antes. A lo lejos vio una casa en la que vivían muchos niños al cuidado de unos pocos adultos.  Para evitar la burlas el Olentzero se quedó observando desde lejos lo que allí pasaba.  Era un hogar para niños huérfanos. El Olentzero, quien de por sí era huérfano, se sintió conmovido de ver tantos niños que hubieran estado solos como él pero que tuvieron la suerte de tener este hogar.  El Olentzero volvió varias veces a ver a los niños jugar. Pero un mal día el Olentzero llegó y vio como el hogar ardía en llamas. Sin pensarlo dos veces, el Olentzero corrió a socorrer a los niños.  El trabajo del Olentzero requería que fuera grande y fuerte, y lo era, probablemente por eso logró salvar a todos los niños.  Agradecidos todos en el hogar le invitaron a venir más amenudo. El Olentzero aceptó la invitación y les ayudó a reconstruir la casa.  Así nació el amor del Olentzero por los niños. Ver a los niños jugar le hacía feliz.

Cuando no estaba en el hogar visitando, y había terminado de trabajar, el Olentzero pensaba en cómo ayudar a los niños. Por las noches comenzó entonces a tallar y construir juguetes de madera para obsequiar a los niños. Descubrió en este pasatiempo una pasión. Al año siguiente, cuando tocaba ir al pueblo a llevar el carbón, el Olentzero fue con carbón pero también con juguetes para los niños. Para su sorpresa en el pueblo ya sabían de su hazaña con el hogar de niños. Ese año lo recibieron todos en la calle como héroe que era. El a cambio venía a traer juguetes para los niños.

En el pueblo el Olentzero se reunía en las tavernas a hablar con los padres y cuando no los niños le pedían cuentos fantásticos del bosque. Pero esta vez, el Olentzero no tenía cuentos de hadas o duendecillos que contar. En vez les habló de la luz, la voz y la noche en la que su vida cambió.  Así fue cómo la noticia del nacimiento de Jesús llegó de boca de un humilde carbonero que bajaba al pueblo a saludar una vez al año. Un carbonero barrigón, con piel tiznada pero con una alegría contagiosa que compartía con los niños mediante pequeños obsequios en la Navidad.