The big story of this week is that I killed chickens. I won't go into much detail, seeing as some viewers might object (come to think of it, I object), but suffice it to say that I have wrung their necks and decapitated them. And plucked their feathers afterward. I did not butcher them any further, which I consider a blessing. However, it will be almost impossible to get the chicken blood off of my sandals, so I'll carry around a little piece of that wherever I go. And I'm sure that they will call upon my killing services again in the future.
I was SO hoping that I'd get by with just put the live chickens in bags, feeding the egg-yielding hens, and plucking feathers. The feather-plucking wound up being my downfall, though: I had never done that before, so I was a little slow, and Hermano David noticed and said, "Miguel...ahora, solo matar." And in my mind, I grimly thought, "Sí, qué suerte..." knowing that it was just too good a stroke of luck not to have to bring a knife to chickens' necks.
I've managed to eat chicken since then. I have to will myself to think about the trauma of it all. Trust me, when I let my mind go there, it's horrific and makes me shudder. But seeing as my food options are rather low, I'll just have to shudder about it on days when we have lentils for lunch.
I have a whole long line of thoughts about this, but they're all semiformed and disjointed. Not that that's much of a break from tradition.
On a more food-FRIENDLY basis, the word this week: Papas a la Huancaína y Arroz con Pollo. Dude. The former is some boiled potatoes put on a lettuce leaf with a spicy cheese sauce (hardboiled eggs and olives optional), the latter is just really good chicken with some rice that has great flavor. OH! Also, anticuchos de corazón. Beef-heart shish-kebab. Slightly chewy, but oh so delicious.
Even with how much I gush about meat, I could totally see being a vegetarian when I come back to the states. I'd have to find a way to combat the constant hunger that I would feel, but I know I'd be fine. We'll see.
Other events: I have decided to forgo the whole shaving and hair-cutting thing for a while. We're not sure how long. Maybe all my time here. I'll keep you updated. It's already somewhat disheveled and I'm not really socially presentable, and that's before I need to comb my hair back and possibly put it in a ponytail. Yikes.
October marks the beginning of Pannetone season at Ciudad de los Niños. The Panadería is open 24/7 to churn 'em out (they make a lot of their money by selling these things). Thus, the Panadería smells delicious almost all the time.
I really am glad for the older guys who're in San Juan with me. They're patient with my Spanish and willing to converse. Also, they have a level of maturity that's just right, so I don't feel quite so isolated as I might were I the only guy my age in San Juan. The 13/14/15 year olds need to grow up quickly in certain ways (i.e., poverty, drug issues, sex issues, etc.), but they're still not quite there. Some are more mature than others, which is almost deceiving sometimes, because they'll be a real ally to me one moment, then they'll act their age the next, and it's almost more a threat to patience than the kids who're consistently acting like awkward adolescents. It's beautiful to work with them, though, because they're so awkward that they can't help but be genuine. I can see through most airs that they put on to look more mature and impressive, and they can be really fun.
It's weird, though, being so consistently immersed in a group of people that's so definitely NOT my age. I'm so used to just being in a group of cohorts that it's slightly off-putting. It's a great way of discovering that I'm not as mature in some ways that I thought and that I'm more mature in others. I'd elaborate, but I'm not sure what I'm saying. I can genuinely say that I miss Fall, but I'm glad for the sunshine today.
Oh!And to make this perhaps even more long-winded than usual, I have been reading this book called The Sacrament of Salvation by Fr. Paul McPartlan. I had to read portions of it for his class in the fall of 2008, and now I'm dedicating myself to reading it all, especially now that Senioritis isn't an issue and I'm not bored of school. The book is about Eucharistic Ecclesiology, which I find fascinating. It's been a way to rejuvenate a somewhat stale taste I had in my mouth regarding the Mass.
Now, maybe the folks who went to Catholic University already think about this regularly, but I just find it amazing how often we go to Mass and don't even wrestle to find a deeper meaning in what we're doing. I mean, clearly we're human, so we're not really ABLE to grasp its meaning in its entirety, but dang. It IS about community, but it's deeper than the community of people who eat coffee and donuts and occasionally are impressed with the homily. It's about love, but not about a love that God and Christ had for us and each other to such an extent that led to the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ that stops there that we're simply to admire for an hour.
I keep coming back to this one verse that Fr. McPartlan's book mentions: "You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel." (Heb 12:22-24, NAB). Some versions say "graciously" instead of eloquently. My thinking simply isn't working today, so I'll just say: I really pray for the grace of awareness during Mass, because that phrase has opened up a world of strength, of possibility, and of courage...and now what I need is the courage and openness to jump into it. What are you saying "Amen" to at Communion?