I missed writing yesterday and broke a seven day streak. The Cura that we sang with Padrinho Paulo started early and finished late, and there just was not an opportunity to write. When I got home, I saw the above picture of my grandson Noah eating Açaí in Madrinha Rita’s kitchen with his Mom, Simone. I remember the last time I was in Mapia in the summer of 2019. An old friend, Severinho, was making the açaí in the kitchen. He brought the long stalks of berries from the açaí palms and blanched them in boiling water and then separated the pits from the thick purple meat of the berries. From there it went straight into a plastic pitcher and from there into our bowls. I always liked a little farinha and honey in mine. There in Mapia, the açai is thick and heavy–a completely different food from the watered down frozen packets that we buy in the grocery store here.
I also received a really cool video of Wylie doing a flip off the bridge into the stream in the middle of town with a bunch of other young people. He executed a perfect flip, but without rolling into a ball. He looks like a pencil flipping through the air. The bridge is about 15 feet over the surface of the river, so one has to commit or suffer a horrendous belly flop. I would be terrified to leap like that into that coffee brown and opaque water. I hit my face into a log without seeing it one time. I was lucky not to be seriously injured.
The work was very strong. We had about 35 people with visitors from all around the country. Several people came from the much larger Church near Austin Texas. We had several from upstate New York, Maryland, Hawaii, and Los Angeles Churches too. These are all places Padrinho stopped on his tour, and Miami is the final stop, so we had a lot of people who wanted to be there for our works.
The work was extremely challenging for me. Padrinho likes to arrange the salão so that he can see everyone during the work. This is different from the traditional Santo Daime set up where the table is in the center and everyone is in a hexagon or square shape around the center table. Here we set up what looked like a banquet table with the women going down the right side and the men on the left. As the “daime guardian” I was seated next to Padrinho’s left hand, and so when I looked down at the hymn book on the table in front on me, the line of men were in my upper left visual field, which of course is blind since my stroke. So this gave me the weird effect of not being able to see the entire line of fifteen or so men extending out to the left.
The force of the sacrament was very strong. It was enough to open the healing but not so much as to create a carnage. It’s a very fine balance to push the force strong enough to really open the doors for healing without over serving the sacrament. Fortunately the divine intelligence guides the serving process. We hit that edge perfectly.
The music was particularly beautiful as well. We had the guitar players at the opposite end of the room, so they did not interfere too much with connecting the voices of the singers. Sometimes with a guitar in the center, the voices cannot connect over the amplifier in the center. This set up was much better.
The leader of the Santo Daime worldwide is Padrinho Alfredo, the son of Padrinho Sebastião. He is a master of leading works without having to be the loudest voice in the room. No matter what is happening in the salão, and it can get pretty intense, Padrinho Alfredo is the picture of calm. He was giving me guidance in keeping myself calm and patient when I felt frustrated that other people were not following my guidance. Padrinho trust me to lead the work when he is up taking care of something, and I am willing and capable of doing so, but it’s hard when we have so many people, especially leaders from other churches. Everyone means well, and everyone wants to contribute what they have to offer. And so a lot of time when I’m wanting to influence the work, I don’t have the space or the attention I need to be effective.
One way to deal with this is to get loud and start bossing everyone around. This works not at all. In the force people are so sensitive that even a minor correction can make someone feel really bad. And they were all having fun and trying to share their gifts. Padrinho Alfredo handles this situation so well. He just stays calm and carries on, and forgives the offenses as soon as they happen.
We were singing the Cura II, which is a 17 hymn selection of healing hymns, in the force of strong sacrament. People were excited and we were blowing through it way to fast. At the rate it was going, we were going to run out of hymns in about 35 minutes with an hour and a half of strong force present. I wanted to sing all the hymns in English and Portuguese, and I had to overcome some resistance to this. I confirmed with Padrinho that was what he wanted. My challenge was to make this happen without making anyone feel that I was strong arming the work.
I had to go outside and sit for a minute, in the middle of this force, to see how to handle it, and Padrinho Alfredo was there for me. I saw how he sits at the table and controls everything with gentle indications from his maracá. I returned to the salão and the women leading the singing were finishing this one hymn in English and when they were done and the guitars were doing the playout, I started softly to sing in Portuguese, and it took a bit for people to catch on, but they did, and then from there we sang them all in both languages. It was such a subtle input in the middle of so much force with so many personalities in play. It was a very special moment.
But I was very tired. My ribs from the fracture were painful and the breathing while singing was hard for me. Also the visual distortions were disorienting, so I had to keep my eyes closed a lot. I felt rather alone, like I was in a capsule or something. I had to let go of some hurt feelings I had to when something I had proposed for the work today was rejected in a way that felt very unkind to me. I am learning this balance of self sufficiency with caring for others. It’s easy for me to isolate myself with the thought that I’m fine by myself, but this is a cold and lonely way to be. At the same time, I am learning that I cannot let my internal sense of well being and happiness be controlled by the reactions other people have to me. Sometimes they love me, sometimes they are angry at me, sometimes they understand me, sometimes they don’t. If my happiness depends on the reactions other people have to me, then what happiness can I possibly have?
So I was sitting with this a lot during the work, and Padrinho Alfredo was sitting there with me. He showed me how to meditate, in a buddhist sort of way, accepting everything that is going on around, and looking out upon it with love in my own eyes, while having my internal peace and happiness coming to me from my divine connection, instead of from my little approval seeking ego self. It was a way of being, impeccability Padrinho was calling it, that I could sustain for a minute or two at a time, before some negative thought or hurt feeling would bubble back up.
We have another work today. The last one of the tour this year. It’s a little hard to get up the energy to do another seven hours with the sacrament, but once we get started, it always takes on a life of its. Sometimes I hope for it to be easy. Usually it isn’t easy. But even if it is not easy, it certainly can be beautiful.
There are a lot of ways that people experience Ayahausca. The Daime is like none other, because we all share in creating the work. It’s not like the shamanic traditions where people come to have a shaman minister to them. Here we have no shaman, we have no guru, we just have the doctrine, and the Daime leads the work. That’s why for us, it is a sacrament, and for most others, it is a medicine.
Wish me luck today.