Dripping River Water


The path to One May 31, 2008

Filed under: love,religion — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:26 pm
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I used to have a hard time when people who were not Caribbean Latino/a or of African descent were interested in my religion.  I used to have a hard time time with people just being interested in Cuba.  Well, I am still having a hard time with that.  I am working on it.

I was baptized Catholic, went to Catholic church some Sundays, went to Catholic school for 13 years but I wasn’t really Catholic.  The other non-Cuban Catholics at my school didn’t offer bread and wine to the saints.  Didn’t have dolls of Africans and Indians (Indigenous) on their altars.  They didn’t carry around a picture of la santa Yemaya.  They didn’t talk to spirits like we did.  They didn’t cover their heads, they didn’t wear white.  They weren’t espiritistas, santero/as y palero/as like us.

I was teased.  They didn’t understand why my mami never had flowers for herself but gave them up to the saints.  They wanted the candy and cake that were for the ancestors.  I wanted normalcy.  Not baths with florida water, cascarilla and flower petals, not eggs rolled over my body and cigar smoke on me.  I left my mami to light her own candles and pray by herself at night.  I laid in bed wondering if God was really there or not.

They have always been with me.  God, los orishas, mi eggun (ancestors/spirits) but it took a long time for me to be with them.  In my last apt in Brooklyn I had a small altar in the corner of my room that collected dust and I was afraid to look at.  Mami complained.  I laid in bed wondering if God was really there or not. 

When I moved out to California about three years ago I knew I wasn’t alone.  Didn’t matter that I loved, I mean, moved out here by myself with my cat, Mamita (RIP).  I left Brooklyn, my home, my friends, my life.  My family that was already in the US was in Florida.  Cuba and Miami seemed even farther when I was time zones and thousands of miles away.  But I wasn’t alone.  I made an altar by the corner of my room but this time I dusted it.  This time I filled the cups of water.  This time I lit incense and candles and talked to anyone that would listen to me.

It was here, in Oakland, surrounded by more trees and sunlight that I stopped questioning if God was there or not.  This time I saw more people with covered heads, wearing white, necks filled with elekes.  Some didn’t look Cuban, some weren’t Black and I had a funny feeling inside.  “Oh, now you’re interested in what we practice.  Now that it’s all trendy you want to be part of it.”  It took time for me to remember that these people weren’t the same kids that teased me.  I didn’t know them.  The people that teased me were probably still confused but I am hoping they aren’t.

I remember my friend took me to an Umbanda spiritual session and he, this other guy and me were the only people of color there.  I was mad.  I was stiff.  How could the orishas and the spirits talk through them?  How could they know spiritual songs better than me?  And my anger was known even though I didn’t say a word.  And a spirit talked through this white woman and said that this religion was for everybody and I knew he was talking to me.  And I was still mad after I got out of there and it took some time for me to feel at ease.

Our faith has always been beautiful and then others wanted to distort it, wanted to destroy it.  And for those others to want to now grasp it has been a difficult process for me.  But who am I to judge?  Who am I to say this one can practice loving God this way but this other person can’t?  Who am I to say those things?

It was through learning the teachings of Islam that I became more open.  It was years ago in high school that I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Reading that book I went through the phases of hating the white man and then seeing that in the grand scheme of things we are all one.  I remember really wanting to know more about Islam but I didn’t know how to access this information aside from reading Malcolm X. Luckily that isn’t the case anymore.  Through my friendships and the amount of information on Islam that I have access to I know more and Islam has helped open my heart.  Since my 15 years out of high school I’ve been trying to learn more about my religion, La Regla Lukumi, espiritismo, Buddhism and Islam.  If I can learn to be a better person through the teachings of other religions how can I get mad at someone else for wanting to be a better person, too?  

My connection with God is no longer a struggle but how I connect with Him has been.  I am trying to resolve that.  Trying not to be a purist and feeling that I just must be part of one religion completely.  I just want to do God’s work and honor my ancestors’ spiritual beliefs.  My ancestors, they are all over the place so of course I feel a pull.  And i know that when Yoruba and Arabic want to spill out of my mouth something must be right with what I am doing.

My friend once told me that we are spiritual beings and human some of the time.  I like remembering that.

Many blessings.


the end.


Podemos con Obama May 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:44 pm
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our purpose

Filed under: love,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 2:07 pm
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We all have a purpose here.  Our biggest goal should be to live out that purpose.  Not to make the biggest paycheck or have the freshist rims.  You can have those things but what’s the use of having material things when you are empty inside?  Why have the latest car and the fancy house and the trips to resorts when we are not living our purpose?  To live out your purpose is to truly love yourself.  

If we all found love and happiness within ourselves then we can give love and happiness to others.  Then we can be nicer to each other.  Then we can stop judging or being jealous.  We can congratulate each other for doing our life work.  If we took risks and truly listened to our hearts we can make our lives better and then the world would be a better place.

God didn’t let us go from heaven for no reason.

the end. 



you inspire savorings May 13, 2008

Filed under: love,poetry,sensual,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:27 am
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your lips taste like
oshun scented honey

i dance for you
in golds
dripping river water

you sit
by saffron pear trees 
wating for me
to feed you

© 2007 Maceo Cabrera Estévez


at the car wash May 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 6:37 pm
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Two days ago I sat on the bench of the car wash reading The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi when my body flinched three times to gunshots.  I sat reading on the busy street where mufflers blow out and sirens sound high, reading.  I looked at the men in front of me at the car wash and they were all staring across the street. Hands no longer in movement drying up the cars.  I turned around and saw a man with a hoodie running away and a car screeching out of the parking lot.  That is when I semi ducked but still watched. Heart racing.  Thinking I am across the street, stray bullet may have gotten me so far.  What was I doing reading and not noticing?

But that is what happens when you grow up hearing gunshots outside your home.  When you duck and crawl on the floor.  When you start pretending that everyone has a bad muffler.  That popping sounds are normal.  That is what happens when you lose yourself in a book because everything around you seems so bad.  A book can take you around the world or to a white rich neighborhood far away from Brooklyn.  I grew up in Borough Park, Brooklyn.  A predominately Hassidic Jewish neighborhood so you won’t really associate gunshots with this place.  But it happened.  Maybe because there were drug dealers across the street.  Maybe because we were on the border of Sunset Park.  Maybe because when I was a kid I heard gunshots far away.  I was tuned in to more than what was inside.

I remember when my first niece from my oldest brother was born.  I was 15 and I took her to walks outside.  Sunset Park was the closest park with tiny hills of grass.  The rest were full of concrete and sometimes glass. My brother didn’t want me to take her around there because there were more gang fights, more gunshots.  And I just wanted to go coz there were more Latinos and I thought he was being elitist.  So, at 32 with no babies of my own but a slew of children that I love, I thought about not wanting my children near gunshots.  Not wanting them to be so absorbed in a book because everything was so bad all around that they would pretend that gunshots were something else.

I understood then the appeal of the suburbs, of gated communities, of living outside reality.

I had one lesson in shooting recently because I wanted to know what it felt like to hold a gun.  I didn’t want the first time to be because of necessity.  I wanted to know that I could do it.  Calm with power.  Mami thought it was a good idea.  Papi never wanted me to hold a gun again.

My life is good all around so there is no need for me to fall into the other worlds of books except to enjoy it.  But there are patterns, there are histories that stay with us.  How do you understand root causes and then change the patterns in your life that can hurt you?  I know it’s possible because change is possible.  I believe in it.  There are times that I submit myself to being a lifelong student.  It is those times I am at ease.  I live in the present.  I thank the Creator for every leaf and flower in bloom.  And there are times that I forget even though I have daily reminders and I remember myself at 12 in bed staring at the lace pattern of my beige flower curtains.

I don’t want to live in the suburbs or a gated community.  I want to live in a house by a creek.  Where water is flowing.  Where there is cleansing.  I want to hear gunshots as gunshots and mufflers as mufflers.  Most of all I want us all to be present and understand it all.

the end.


Libra horoscope via free will astrology May 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 2:43 am
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Libra Horoscope for the week of May 8, 2008

“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt,” wrote columnist Hal Boyle. “It is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.” Your assignment for the rest of 2008, Libra, is to do whatever’s necessary to make yourself fit this description. The next eight months will provide unprecedented opportunities to turn yourself into a river flowing toward your destiny with surprisingly sublime freedom. 


The bath May 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 9:27 pm
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Before I went to Cuba last year I kept on having an image.  I saw myself in the forest, nighttime, stars filled the sky.  A  claw foot tub outside.  Me in it.  Water hot.  Two viejitas with long salt and pepper hair cleansing my body with plants.  Their hands pulling my hair back, easing my muscles with their touch.  I wondered if there was a place like that.  People like these women.  Moments where it is I who gets taken care of.

When I went to Cuba I did some spiritual work.  At my Padrino’s house there was a woman that gave me a bath with plants but it wasn’t how I imagined it.  We were in the small shower stall.  The water cold.  She talked about her grandson having a crush on me.  I somehow felt cleansed but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

Every so often when my body has been overworked, after comforting other people I imagine myself in that forest being cleansed.

I seek.

Researching for grants seems daunting.  Applying for fiscal sponsorship is boring.  Learning Arabic brings up all these types of insecurities.  It is Tuesday and I have three children to take care of and I would rather just do yoga.  

The sun was hiding this morning.  I cranked up the heat and we stayed indoors.  What activity can we do to keep them entertained for some time?

 A bath, in the fancy upstairs tub.  

The girls, Hope, almost 3, Ruby, 2.5, can spend hours in the bath and it’s big enough for them to almost swim.  Zeke, 22 months, is scared of water.  I stayed outside the tub with Zeke until he realized he might have more fun if he got in.  He stood up the whole time but we’re taking baby steps, right?  Hope and Ruby asked if I would get in and I felt crappy so, I didn’t want to.  But why not?  Once I got in Ruby asked if she could wash my hair.  They poured cups and cups of water.  Sometimes cold, mostly hot.  With each cup I felt it all washing off from me. They soaped up my back and washed it with a cloth. Ruby was gentle making sure nothing got into my eyes and I almost wanted to cry.  They were being so nice to me.  This was the closest thing to the viejitas giving me a bath in the middle of the forest under the stars.  The viejitas were just a little bit younger.

Sometimes things aren’t exactly how you expect them.  Love shows up in various ways.

the end.