When I received my first holy communion in 1978 my great grandmother Abo Mon (Abuela Montserrat Viaplana) gave me an 18K gold scapular — on one side, the Virgin Mary; on the other, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For years wearing that scapular on a chain around my neck made me feel bulletproof. Somehow, having Jesus that close to my heart gave me the sense that no harm would tarnish my newly blessed state of sinlessness. Looking back, I wonder what bullets a sheltered convent school girl needed to dodge. The biggest sins I imagine I committed had to do with untruths, lies of no real consequence, stealing a piece of candy or a sticker.
As flower girl, rendered bullet proof by the scapular I am wearing underneath the fancy gown
Eight years after, this sheltered convent school girl turned left-leaning chick in the ‘godless’ college she went to. Perhaps it was Abo Mon who needed to be bullet proof at that point as her great grand daughter left the sheltered proper world that contained her quite contentedly to forray into a less structured and far less rigid world beyond. At some point, a link in the chain broke perhaps ominously. I still have the scapular, I keep it treasured in a safe place. I just don’t think it’s enough to make me feel bulletproof
It is no longer about sin these days, it is about the glorious. It is about finding the light deep within and turning it on, on, on so I can see with compassion. It is about pursuing the purity of joy, so I can bring joy wherever I go. It is about unlocking the creativity, so I find that blissful spiritual place within me. It is about breaking rules that hold me back, so I can contribute to progress and advancement.
In search for my inner light, bulletproofing from within
The bullets, they are personal. They strike at the core, calling me and my kind words meant to take us down. What they cannot understand, they take apart in attempt to diminish. What they cannot tolerate, they segregate. Fortunately, I now know that I am as bulletproof as I need to be. The core is strong, the light shines bright and the tribe is steadfast. The naysayers are not plenty, at least not in the circles that compel me. In the end the bullets they launch ricochet right back to them, because all they do is reveal bigotry, small mindedness and unwarranted self-righteousness.
What’s the bigger sin, then — to see yourself holier than the rest of us, or to relentlessly pursue the divine in the glory of your humanity?