A Season for Weddings--and other Events

Yes, this is the season for weddings. I've been to three already--for Hector Herrera Jr., my nepthew; Valeria Jiminez, my cousin; and Angelica Loa, my niece. I've also been invited to other weddings that I could unfortunately not attend for various reasons, most notably Tanee Blazquez's wedding in Chicago on July 7 (she's the daughter of my good friends and Mexika Indigenous teachers, Frank and Lou Blazquez).

What's good about family members getting married is that I get to see family I haven't seen in a long time. In Valeria's case, I got to see some family I never knew I had. Valeria is the daughter of my uncle Marcello Jiminez, my mother's youngest half-brother (he's about my age). My aunt Gloria, my mother's youngest half-sister, was also there with her daughter Monica, whom I met for the first time. I also met other cousins I did not know. Also family members from El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico made the trip out as well, including my cousin Ninfa, whom I have not seen in 30 years. I got news about my other cousins along the border area of El Paso/Juarez (most are doing well, except for those cousins who have passed away).

Again, it was an honor to meet and see many of these people, some of whom are living in the San Fernando Valley, where I now make my home. It makes me think about how many other family members I may have bumped into without knowing they were related.

Angelica Loa is my niece by marriage, part of the large and wonderful Cardenas clan originally of Pacoima (my wife's parents had 11 children--they in turn have raised many more great kids). I'm glad to be part of this large family--they are active and decent and spiritually engaged. Some of them are part of our Sweat Lodge Circle in San Fernando. For example, we did a beautiful indigenous ceremony for Angelica and her new husband, Enrique Perez, a week before the main wedding date on July 7. It was attended by their friends and closest siblings. It included a sharing circle, a sweat lodge ceremony, and communal pot luck. It was run by Hector Herrera Sr., husband to Trini's sister, Licha; Hector is also one of our water pourers for the Sweat Lodge Circle (he's of Yaqui-Raramuri descent).

For many years--almost 30 years--I was out of communication with my immediate family, including my mother. But seven years ago when Trini and I moved back to LA from Chicago (after I spent 15 years there), I made sure to re-connect with my mother Maria Estela; my brother Joe; my sisters Ana and Gloria; my half-sister Seni; and their kids and grandkids. This is important. Whatever issues we may have had between us doesn't seem to matter. I simply don't have any beefs with anyone in my family anymore. I realize family is important and all the pettiness that sometimes comes between us needs to be put aside to maintain the love and trust we should have as relatives

This has been important for my two youngest sons, Ruben and Luis, who now have many cousins, aunts and uncles to relate to (two of his uncles were there for Ruben when he went through a Navajo rites of passage ceremony at age 12 on the Navajo rez).

While we don't demand that our kids follow our spiritual paths or practices, it's important for them to know them and have them in their lives as guides (or when they should ever need to turn to these ways). These are ancient traditons from both Mexico and North America (and even from Peru, where we've also done some native ceremonies).

I pray that all these young couples stay together with lots of love and to be strong, healthy, spiritually centered, and socially active for as long as they live.

ALSO--I have a couple of events I want to bring to people's attention. One is a reading I'll be doing this Tuesday, July 17 at the Industry Cafe as part of the Organic Soul Movement's Open Mic series (it's also to celebrate the birthday of "The Bus Stop Prophet," Frank Escamilla). Other performers include:

Besskepp of A Mic and Dim Lights
Sarah Cruse
Pocho Joe
Superb of Urbane Culture Lounge
Drew Amavisca of Javelin
Carvell Holloway of Rock A Mole Productions
Joshua Silverstein
Bus Stop Prophet

Plus a never before seen multi-dimensional tribute to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." The address is: Industry Cafe and Jazz, 6039 Washington Blvd. (four blocks west of La Cienega), Culver City. The time is: 9:30 PM-Midnight. Admission is FREE

AND I'll be reading poetry at a Community Open House for AWARE-LA (Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere, Los Angeles) on Saturday, July 21 from 1 to 3:30 PM at the Shakespeare Festival LA, 1238 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles 90026.

The event is called "Tranformative Alliances: White Anti-Racists & Its Relevance to the Social Justice Community of Los Angeles." It's important that all of us who have common interests and aims--such as eradicating racism and social injustice--come together. I'm honored to be part of this important gathering.

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