Dripping River Water

Love

Please help this community of Cuban Muslims September 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:44 pm
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There are no mosques in Cuba.  You can not find any halal markets,  Muslim bookstores or Islamic schools.  There is little or no access to the internet.  Without these resources the Muslim community in Cuba continues to grow.  In November, 2009 I went back to Cuba to visit my family and I visited Muslims in the small city of Holguín.  Last month I began writing about my experience there:  Eid in Cuba, 2009 part 1 .  I received an email from Abdul Latif and Aisha yesterday with the great news that they have the opportunity to buy land for two families to live on.

This is their vision:

– to raise goats and lambs for their consumption

-to sell halal meat to the other Muslims in the area

-to make clothing for the sisters

-to provide a space for the education of Muslims in the area and those interested in Islam

-to build a place of worship outside their homes

inshaAllah.

I was asked to provide them with a loan that I can not do at this time but I can ask friends and family to help them in this endeavor.  I need to raise $2200 in the next coming weeks.  Things are quickly changing in Cuba and this is a great opportunity for this community to grow and be of service.  Please donate what you can, even $5.00 will help.  Please forward this blog entry to family, friends and others in your community.  Please keep the Muslims in Cuba in your prayers and hearts, they are really good people that just want to better serve our Creator.

Please feel free to contact me at: maceomarti@gmail.com if you have any questions or would like more information.

Thank you.

Salaams,

Maceo Nafisah Cabrera Estévez

Help raise $2200 for the Muslims in Holguín, Cuba

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She’s a saint August 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 7:39 pm
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My mami’s a saint.  Not the kind that needs to be canonized nor is she of porcelain with robes and crowns.  My mami is a walking saint.  

It’s my last day in Florida.  I am actually starting to like this state again.  It’s the clouds.  They are big puffs in shapes of pillows and goats and angels.  It is not just the clouds, really, there is more.  It is the palm trees, the green on various leaves, it is the humidity hugging me so tight, it is the Cubans, the Puerto Ricans, the salsa on the radio,  it is my family.  

I am at the hospital taking care of my papi.  He is across from me asleep.  A tube here, a tube there, tubes everywhere.  Morphine, oxygen, liquids.  He goes through his moments of being in pain.  A press of a button releases morphine.  A press of another button calls the nurse.  This is the nicest hospital I have been in but I feel like I will turn into a fast food junky if I stay any longer.  I had McDonald’s last night because I was sick of the Subway sandwiches and I have gotten hooked on the Starbuck’s Iced Chai Latte with Soy.  Please forgive me I have been away from California too long.  Ok, it’s only been a week but please do forgive me.

I leave tomorrow and my papi will remain in the hospital until he is fully recovered.  I leave and it makes me sad that I can’t afford to stay longer.  My mami who has not been with my papi for the past 23 years will take care of him.  Mami never liked church and doesn’t really believe in organized religion although she says, soy católica a mi manera.  Mami has always told me that her religion is helping others.  That is what she does.  She goes from house to house helping those who are sick.  A month at her friend’s because she had a foot operation.  Over a year while my cousin was sick with lung cancer.  She stayed with her sister after my cousin passed away.  The other sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mami went over there.  My little cousin had to have a tumor removed by her heart.  Where was my mami?  In my cousin’s kitchen making sure the beans were cooked just right.  She goes back and forth and is hardly in her section 8 studio apartment in Little Havana.  My mami is a saint.

When I was little it annoyed me that she took care of so many other people.  I love my mami, really I do but there were ways she didn’t know how to be my mami.  Not the one I needed.  I think I’ve moved on from that.  I think.  Hija eres madre será.  You are a daughter and will be a mother.  That is what she always told me when I misbehaved.  I remember that because perhaps in some way I may fail my child as well.  May I catch myself before it happens or while it is happening.  May she or he not write a blog about how I wasn’t the best mother.  Ameen. 

 I never knew my parents’ relationship to be happy so it has surprised me when she has woken me up in the morning to call the hospital to see how my papi is doing.   I forget, once they were married, once they loved each other, once they had my brother and me.

I pray that my mami never gets sick because who would take care of her the way she takes care of other people.  I would, of course, she is my mami, but we don’t have the same calling.  I stayed at my papi’s place the night of his surgery.  I was alone in the apartment while my oldest brother’s house was filled with people.  I woke up missing my mami so much.  I couldn’t wait to get to her.  I hugged her and didn’t care if her cigarrette smoke was getting in my hair.  I wanted my mami the way a kid wants their mami.  In that moment she was the best mami anyone could ever have.  I understand her now.  I appreciate all the little things she did for other people and all the teachings she gave me.

My eyes are tired.  It is a long drive from Spring Hill to Tampa to go to the hospital.  I am not used to these florescent lights.  I kind of want to stay here.  Maybe it’s the clouds or the fast food is making me delusional.  Maybe it’s just that I am all grown up and things are finally good with my family, minus the sicknesses of course, but emotionally we are stronger now.  How can we not be when we have the blessings and the love of a walking saint?

the end.

 

I Follow the Religion of Love March 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 1:34 am
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I FOLLOW THE RELIGION OF LOVE

My heart has become capable of every form:

It is a pasture for gazelles,

And a monastery for Christian monks,

And a temple for idols,

And the Ka’aba of the pilgrims,

And the tablets of the Torah,

And the book of the Qur’an.

I follow the religion of Love:

Whatever path Love’s camel takes,

That is my religion and my faith.

-Ibn Arabi

 

Sometimes the baby naps in his stroller.  I take him for a walk after playing in the kindergym.  I make his stroller into a mini bed.  I sing him songs.  Sometimes run my fingers through his hair.  He sleeps and I walk to the library.  I find a cozy spot with a cushioned seat.  He sleeps and I read.  Usually books on Sufism and Islam.    That is where I found the poem above.  It seemed to have been transmitted to my mother because that is the religion she taught me.  I don’t think she ever said her religion was about Love because love seemed so hurtful to her but in her actions love was there.  My mami’s religion was to help others.

My family makes it easy for me.  When asked about my family’s religion I say that my family practices everything.  From Catholicism to Santeria, to talking to spirits, to having gurus.  What we have in common is that we believe in the One.  My mother remembers hearing her grandparents talking about our family being Muslim.  There is a prayer in Islam that my mom taught me as a child.   In my mother’s religion of helping others she has instilled that servitude for humanity in me.  

I think about my continuous spiritual development and my role in this world.  It is as simple and complex as every moment.  I have a roommate now.  My friend Meadow who now lives in the closet.  That is what one of the little girls calls her, the lady that lives in the closet.  I try to make space for her.  I realized that my altars/art installations had to go.  I was not using them anyway.  For awhile now they have just been art installations.  My living room/the gallery.  I already had my boveda in my bedroom and Oshun on a shelf.  I moved Yemaya minus the print to another shelf in my bedroom.  I cried during all of this.  Change.

I talked to my Ifa spiritual teacher yesterday.  It had been a long time.  I had been neglecting going to temple because for awhile I felt this: I love him and I love his teachings but I didn’t feel that was the spiritual space I needed to be in.  It was something like church where I didn’t truly believe everything that the priest said.  When I pray in the masjid and hear the Imam or Sheik give a khutbah I usually cry.  My heart opens up in such a big way and I feel peace.  When I talked to my teacher he said he thought about calling me.  I told him i knew that he was thinking of me the moment I told myself I needed to call him.  He told me he was looking over my Odu.  ( I have trouble explaining what an odu is.  Here’s a link that may help. Ifá )  I was reminded of it.  Reminded of everything that makes my spirituality whole.

My spirituality has always been a process and will continue to be.  When I have a moment with God I clearly understand that God wants me to learn it all.  The Creator  wants me to understand the different ways to be close to Him.  This way I can be more accessible to everyone I meet.  My beliefs are my beliefs and I have to understand to have full respect of others.  Ibn Arabi’s poem made me realize that it wasn’t me making up things.  There are others, many, many others that are open and their hearts full of love.

I must admit that sometimes when the baby is sleeping I wish I was sleeping, too.  Then I read.  

the end. 

 

 

A prayer for Gaza January 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 10:39 pm
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Love thy enemy.

There was a time I didn’t like Jesus.  Not that I ever thought he was a bad guy.  I would have probably wanted to be Jesus’ friend if I was around that time.  I just didn’t really believe in the whole holy trinity and that he was the son of God.  Or God himself in human form.  I was still in Catholic school, I was still a little kid and I knew that he was a prophet.  Just that.  A big “just”. Instead of seeing the complexities around Jesus I just didn’t like him.  Remember I was a kid.

Then I met Buddha.  Then I met the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  Then I realized I could actually like Jesus.

I have been remembering Jesus.  The stories I liked about him.  Ways that I could be like him.  I remembered him saying at one point in time to love thy enemy.  Love thy enemy.  I don’t have any enemies.  When I was a kid there were people I hated.  With good reason but I don’t hate anyone anymore.  I don’t have any enemies.  Maybe there are people that just don’t like me but I don’t think they are my enemy.

When I was reading the Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh I remember having to meditate on loving my enemy.  The enemies that I don’t have.  But then I remembered…

the man who abused me-an enemy

George W Bush-an enemy

an ex girlfriend-an enemy

and I tried to meditate on love for them and this was truly hard.  This was hard because I had to see them as complex human beings who were hurt themselves and needed forgiveness and love so their lives would be better.  Did I say this was hard?

Somehow it has gotten easier.  I can’t tell you how that somehow happened.  It was gradual.  It didn’t just become an epiphany.  It happened in between healing and freak outs.  I started to believe in the truest form of love.   I started to believe that love can change anything.  I started to believe in love.

I pray.  I pray everyday.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to start praying.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to let myself have that moment to be open and free.  When I do I feel new.  When I do I feel like myself.  When I do I see that I am connected to every molecule in the universe.  Every person.  Every plant.  Every rock.

I prayed in San Francisco on Friday for Gaza.  I prayed for the children.  I prayed for those who have been injured.  Those who lost lives.  Those whose hearts beat so fast not knowing what will happen next.  I prayed for people to be wrapped around in God’s comfort during this time.   My heart feels achy.  I am not alone.  I prayed. My picture was taken.  I wondered if my prayers were captured and sent all over the world with one click. 

My sister saw the picture and told me she thought of me when she went to church.  Thought of me when the pastor was talking about love.  Love thy enemy.  Love everyone.  Love even the man who killed Oscar Grant.  Love him because he needs prayers, too.  And I told her yes, I pray for the Israeli government everyday.  I pray that God will give them so much light that they will see that killing is not the answer.  I pray that God will guide them so they will stop the shootings, stop the bombs, stop the terror.  I pray that they will be strong enough to just stop everything, to let go of their egos, to truly do God’s work.  I pray for them.  Everyone needs prayers.  I pray for all world leaders to step up and stop being silent.  I pray that they treat each other with loving kindness and see all the discrepancies in the world.  I pray that they lead with their hearts and not with their egos.  I pray for them because I believe in the power of change and maybe if they feel my prayers something will shift.  I pray.

Years later I realized what Jesus meant by loving thy neighbor.  I realized and now I can really like him.  I understand him in ways the bible could not relay to me.  I understand what he meant about love.  I got work to do.  So I pray.

the end.

 

Yes to love December 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 6:40 am
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I’ve had three days of spiritual experiences.  In three different places.  Excuse me four.  Three days of everything coming into full circle.  This was the first in practicing everything I believed in.  I cried and teared in front of strangers all part of my community somehow.  I am starting to feel free.

I sat with my friends, my sisters drinking tea and catching up with our lives.  This is something we have not done all together for a long time.  One of them told me that she loves that I am comfortable in my own skin, that I have my own path and I lead it. I have felt so outside of my skin these past few weeks that it was comforting to hear that.  I feel more settled.  I feel more like myself.  There is an acceptance there, I know how I need to grow how I need to change.  Life is full of transitions.  This year has been a difficult one.  Not just for me but for many of us.  It is about growth.

Yesterday when I talked/ when my heart was so tight/ when I finally got to breathe/ I had to massage my heart.  It got lighter and lighter throughout the day.  I went to a retreat at a meditation center on Freeing my Heart.  My heart is getting there.  I think almost there for the moment.  Work still needs to be done.  I think my heart got a little too used to being closed.  It is guarded and open at the same time.  This does not work.

I give my love so much more freely to my friends, my family even to strangers.  To lovers, to partners I get scared and the guard goes up and I didn’t even know it.  I was always giving, yes, of my heart, no. 

We went to the ocean tonight.  I dressed in layers, watermelon and pennies in hand.  We stood holding each others hands in a circle.  Every moment is a blessing.  The ocean is as vast and deep as we are.  A beautiful moment.  I felt free.

I know that this coming year has to be different.  No more blocks.  No more guards.  This is what I will let go of, my guard.  This is what I will put away, the blocks.  I did not ask for anything but support.  I didn’t ask for a car, I didn’t ask for more money, I didn’t ask for a partner.  I only asked for God and the angels to support me when I try to find my guard, when I try to collect my blocks.  I feel free.

I also want to say yes more.  Yes to seeing friends.  Yes to going on more adventures.  Yes to receiving help.  Yes to the people that try to give me samples at the farmer’s market and whole foods.  Yes to love.

I will be off of the internet for the next month.  I will write, heal, write and rejuvenate.  May you be full, may you be peaceful, may you always experience your beauty, may you be gentle and kind to yourself.  May you say yes to love.

the end.

 

Mission Complete November 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 3:51 pm
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Last night I brought in a small frog.  She was so cute I wanted to keep her.  But I don’t think I could take her back to Cali with me and all my luggage.  I have two days left in Florida and with all my frustrations and all my complaining I am glad I was here for this long.

I was in Miami for a week.  For a week my mami made me cafe con leche, made my lunch, made my dinner.  Brought me water and Materva when I asked for it.  For a week I was spoiled.  There is part of me that wants to be taken care of and another that just wants to brush all of that away.  But I know that when I am home alone I am the one who does my own laundry, I do my own dishes, I scrub my own floors.  I prepare my spiritual baths and pray all alone.  With my mami it is different.  

I had a dream once.  Really a nightmare.  My gold bracelet that I haven’t taken off in years exploded.  My body trembled.  Something was happening inside.  A dark skinned Cuban man with a plaid flannel type shirt talked to me and told me to pray.  I prayed the Our Father, the only prayer I seem to have fully memorized.  I didn’t know anything in Spanish.  He told me, eres como una bruja prieta pero eres blanca.  When I woke up and called my mami she laughed because she knows how I can’t stand when people call me white.  He said, I am like a Black witch but I am white.  And when I couldn’t pray in Spanish he told me to ask my mami to pray for me because she has a lot of power.  She laughed at that as well because she never knew she was powerful.  I asked my mami to pray for me everyday and even though she can irritate me I felt safe in her small studio.  

We did not fight, mami and me.  We almost did but I cut it off right before it happened.  I told her that I know she raised me to be independent but sometimes I think I am way too independent.  She said, I didn’t raise you, you raised yourself.  And it’s true.  I raised myself so it has been difficult for me to really be part of my family.  It has taken me time away, time observing other families, time thinking that I actually want to create my own family, time in learning just to accept myself and others how they are.  Now I feel like a member of my family.  Not the black sheep.  Not the one that left.  I feel like me.

I drove back from Miami on Sunday and I thought I learned a lot about myself on this trip.  I now know that I can’t spend too much time away from my home.  Working and writing at the same time even if it kills me makes me more creative.  If I have too much time on my hands I will devote it to looking at my friends pages on Facebook.  

It would be nice to see my family more often but I don’t know if I could ever live in Florida because:

a) I have no friends here.

b)I could only live in Miami Beach

c)I told myself that the next time I move it will be with a partner (and I still don’t know what is going on with that)

d)people in Miami drive like maniacs and I spent half of my time cursing out people

But sometimes I think it would be nice.  But then I remember that I have to wear a mask to visit my godmother.  I have to put up with them meddling into my life.  I have to tell them that they can’t call my La Talibana.  Well only my godmother calls me that but that is frustrating.

I took my shahada and became Muslim while I was in NYC. It was expected and unexpected.  It has been a struggle for me for awhile.  When you come from a family like mine full of clairvoyants practicing rituals I didn’t know if I could be Muslim.  And then I have to remind myself that it has made feel complete.  I feel that my spirituality has come to a full circle.  I have felt a pull from my ancestors.  Here and there.  Here and there.  People have asked me how my family will react.  And they have reacted the same way I thought they would.  They were really happy for me.  They know that my spirituality will grow even more now, that I will have a bigger understanding of people, that I can be more of service.  I couldn’t of told them on the phone.  I couldn’t of told them with me being here for a few days.  My guard is down.  I am more open.

It is my papi’s birthday today.  Of course he is working.  I will try to have the house clean for him.  I have not lived with him since I was eleven.  And even though he subjects himself to watching this show from Miami that is obsessed with Cuba because he wants to know what they are thinking, I will miss TV time with my dad.  On commercial breaks we talk about politics and how the world can be a better place.  He brings me fried plantains from the restaurant and lets me drive his car full of gas.  My papi understands when I need quiet, when I need to get out of the house, he finally understands when not to give me a sermon and just listen.

In my apt in Oakland with new carpet and nice paint I will not have these family moments.  But I will have the moments in my mind, in my heart.  I have completed my mission here.  I survived a month in Florida. Wow.  Seriously I am about to cry because I didn’t know I could do it.  My brothers and me get along fine.  My nieces and I talk for hours together.  I am able to be open.  I am able to love and accept love.  I am able to stop conflict before it happens.  Ok, I still have to work on cursing out other drivers in Miami but at least I know I have to work on it.

In two days, insha’Allah I will be home.  New adventures to come.  Now I really know I can do anything.

the end.

 

National Protest on Prop 8 November 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:06 pm
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When I was eleven I used to say that I didn’t want to get married or have kids.  That’s when my mami and madrina took me to the side saying I couldn’t say that or people would think I was a lesbian.  I guess they had short term memory loss.  It had around my parents’ separation.  Marriage did not work.

For years I did not want to get married.  Then I was in relationships that I couldn’t get married.  The institution of marriage sucked.  Why would I believe in something that I couldn’t do?  I failed at really committing in my relationships but I got a whole list of reasons for that.  When marriage became legal in California I became really excited and even though I was in love with a man and could get married, it was in that moment that the possibility of getting married was really open to me.  I wanted to call him up and ask him to gay marry me even though he’s not gay.

I didn’t think Proposition 8 would pass and it did.  I felt the pain of the couples that got married at city hall, in front of their families and friends, in gowns and/or suits, around loved ones, saying their vows publicly, their love now acknowledged is no longer valid by the government.  

I have a special, close relationship to God and there has never been a time that He has condemned me for being queer.  Never.  I don’t believe in that crap.  God is more loving than that.  So, to use God and religion to oppose same sex marriage infuriates me.  Are people that insecure that they have to govern other people’s love?

I wish I could be marching with my brothers and sisters right now.  I wish I could be marching with all types of families that support everyone’s right to marriage.  I wish I could be there but right now I am in suburban hell without a car.  So, I will say my prayers and write this blog.  Yes, there are plenty of other rights we have to fight for, like non-discrimination, equal housing, job opportunities, programs to get medicine, issues on bias.  We also have to work towards that.  Even though I am not with a woman right now I am still queer.  It is part of my system, it is part of how I look at the world, it is part of who I am.  That will never change.  Everyone has the right to live a happy life.  Everyone.

I pray that we gather the strength in ourselves and in each other to move forward.  I pray that we all respect each other.  I pray that opposition will end and bridges will be built to create a better humanity.  May our light shine.

the end.