Walking around town last Friday my mind wandered to the winter 2017-2018 and the time I spent in Greece.
My son, sister, nephew, and I experienced the sacred privilege of walking in the streets of Salonika (now Thessaloniki) where our family spent hundreds of years, having arrived as refugees from Spain in the 15th Century.
There they built lives, families, businesses until a new wave of antisemitism had them flee once more, several of them to France - and some of them towards a horrendous fate in concentration camps.
Some of that is beautiful and some of that has a brand of pain that still runs through our veins. All of it is rich and powerful.
After almost two weeks of soaking in the Essences of that place that felt intrinsically familiar yet the language of which we could not speak, on the morning of January 1, 2018, I headed towards the island of Lesvos to work with... refugees.
That chapter again was beautiful and painful and rich and powerful.
As I was thinking about it, on a cobblestoned street in Mexico, I focused on my time spent interpreting from French to English for the refugees center's asylum lawyer. Small windowless room, horrific stories, I felt a deep appreciation for being able to use two languages to bridge the paperwork needed and maybe (maybe) bring a little light to a very messy mess.
Yes, two languages are good, I thought to myself. I'm glad I could do that. I love the gymnastics of it. Then very quickly: but also, it kicked my a** in a big, big way. Interpreting is challenging, exhilarating and for sure, useful. But I don't think I would want to do it again in such intense situations. Maybe something else will come along.
Less than three blocks later, I run into a local woman who offers cooking classes and also created a community kitchen when the pandemic first started. We say hi, we smile and wait for it ... she asks me if I could please interpret for the next cooking class she is holding.
This morning, I stood in her beautiful orange open-aired and interpreted her steps, jokes, and traditional Mexican cooking tips from Spanish to English for a group of Canadian women who learned to make tamales and Sopa de Tortilla (the "put-masa-on-the-forearm-to-see-if-there-is-enough-lard" part was particularly fun. I had to ask her twice to be sure I had heard her correctly)
At no point did we mention anything about torture or worse. It was all poblanos, jitomates and crema. So good.
And the soup was delicious.
So yes, the Universe is listening, I am pretty sure. It listens to our angst, our vagueness, our hesitations. And it waits gently. But then, when it hears Clarity, it goes to work pretty darn quickly.
I think we will have Sopa de Tortilla for Christmas, this year.
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