guest post by Summer of the Mariposas author Guadalupe Garcia McCall.
I’ve been travelling to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas a lot these days, visiting with some wonderful librarians, sharing my story with some amazing students, and just enjoying the adventures this burgeoning writing life is affording me.
Road trips have always been a meditative time for me, a time to be thankful for the blessings in my life and ponder the rest. I listen to the silence of the road, look at the scenery, and engage in prayer. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about being an author and wondering if this is going to be my next career, if I will be fortunate enough to have more books published. Not that I am doubting myself, no, it is more that I am feeling so privileged I don’t want to lose myself in the awesomeness of it all. I don’t want to let it go to my head. I want to always remain true to myself, my culture, and my faith.
Last week, as we were en route to Edinburg, I was looking out of my car window, asking for a sign, when quite literally there it was, a sign—a small billboard on the side of the road indicating the location of The Shrine of Don Pedrito Jaramillo, a Texas historical landmark.
Don Pedrito was a curandero, a healer, who was buried on the outskirts of Falfurrias, Texas in 1907. He came from Jalisco, Mexico, and got so sick he couldn’t sleep for days. He cured himself by applying mud to his injured nose and was finally able to get some much needed rest. It was while he slept that God spoke to him and told him he had to help heal the sick. Tales of his miraculous healings abound within the Hispanic community, and so I told my husband we absolutely had to stop.
So we visited the shrine and a sweet lady helped me pick the perfect candle, la vela de Santa Lucia—for personal elucidation. I lit my candle, gave thanks for this wonderful new writing career, and prayed for guidance and clarity as I embark on this path. That’s when it happened: I received a visit from a most unexpected guest.
It occurred just as I was about to get back in my car, when my husband stopped me and said, “Be careful, you almost closed the door on that butterfly.” I looked at the door’s edge, and there she was, a lovely mariposa. Not just any mariposa, but a brown winged, dark-speckled, many-eyed mariposa. A visitor with a message to deliver.
The Aztecs believed that mariposas were the souls of their loved ones come back to visit them, to bring tidings of hope, and to reassure them that life, however brief, is beautiful. I firmly believe that mariposa was the spirit of my mother who came to remind me that she is with me on this journey, that her loving eyes are always upon me. That I have nothing to worry about because I am being taken care of—that she along with many others are “looking out” for me.
My lovely visitor crawled onto my hand, walked up my sleeve, and just sat there, splaying and displaying her brown, many-eyed wings, as I spoke to her. Some minutes later, she sat politely by while I pulled out my phone and took four close-ups of her. Then, when I thanked her for her unexpected, but much welcomed visit, she let go of the fabric of my jacket and just flew away—reminding me that life is an adventure and I should spread my wings and brave the wind with courage and conviction as I rejoice in the abundance of my blessings.