Maria Vargas

Maria was a best friend to everyone she knew. At her memorial, over 500 people were invited to turn to their neighbor and share Maria's gift to them. First to each other and then to the gathering. They said, "love, courage, power, vision, hope, joy for living, commitment to struggle, passion for justice, fun times" and the list continued.

Maria was a community organizer, educator and therapist. We had this in common and also the vocation of creating ideas and thoughts that could inspire and empower community giving and sharing. I miss calling her on the phone to share insights or to create a three minute laughter break.

Now, our communication requires no phone. From her photo above my computer she smiles at me while I'm at work. Her image often reminds me to take a break. So, I might take a jog at the nearby lake and extend my thanks to her for getting me out. Sometimes as I burn my sage and speak my prayers, I remind Maria of the good things that happen or just ask her to stay near. Then, there are occasions in our familia reflections that we remember the way she made us smile.

In our Chicano-lndio tradition, we call Maria a Nayeli Spirit, a person who continues caring and supporting us while in spirit life. The legend is that 500 years ago, Nayeli was a child healer widely known for her kindness and powerful prayers. When the invaders came to the Americas and began murdering many of the people, she was forced to take arms to protect her community and the "provida way" which is living with love and harmony. There came a battle where Nayeli was seriously injured and in her last words she promised to return. In after life, she was so insistent upon returning to support her community that she coaxed the wise ones to teach her how to become a spirit guide. Nayeli returned to earth as a guide to all children committed to the provida path. We only need call upon her.

In the Nayeli tradition, Maria continues to be a source of strength, inspiration and guidance. May her body organs bring health and courage to each of the beneficiaries. May they know they carry the blood of one of our best. May everyone of her friends remember their blessings and continue enriching life with Maria's vision of love, sharing and caring.

Roberto Vargas, compadre