A Gathering of Hearts

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

The setting sun reflects its dimming brilliance on the meandering and flowing waters of the Rio Grande. It is the sunset that illuminates the beauty and tranquility of the gentle current that softly prods the nectar that nourishes the richness of the Valley beyond the river’s edge

A GATHERING OF HEARTS

By Al Garcia

The setting sun reflects its dimming brilliance on the meandering and flowing waters of the Rio Grande.  It is the sunset that illuminates the beauty and tranquility of the gentle current that softly prods the nectar that nourishes the richness of the Valley beyond the river’s edge.  And it is the approaching night that exposes the dreams and hopes that fill the hearts and minds of desperate souls in search of shelter from the suffocating winds of despair and torment that begins to blow across the Rio Grande and through the fields and pastures that define and outline the wealth, the strength and the heart of a nation, and a people divided and disillusioned. 

It is the night that brings the shadows and the tears of exhaustion and of joy.  It is the sight of huddled masses, lost and afraid, staring silently and pleadingly into the darkened heart that once beat passionately with sympathy and compassion, but now weakens and pains my beating heart and flailing soul.  It is the night that covers the wounds that hate inflicts upon the weak and meek who only seek to breath and feel the embrace of freedom’s caress of shattered dreams.  It is abandoned hope that overwhelms a beaten and berated soul.  It is the night that betrays and reveals.  And it is the waning night that brings the morning light and the sight of discarded and abandoned dreams along the river bank.

There is a gathering of hearts along the river bank, composed of tired dreams and exhausted hope that once fueled the passion and the hunger of their human spirit and their human hearts.  They are creatures of nature and of time, possessed by all who once dared to see beyond the river’s edge. 

I am my parents’ son, but too, the son of generations past, and of gathered hearts that yearned to feel the graceful winds and taste the enchanted nectar across the river bank.  It is because of this, that I feel within a sense of betrayal and duplicity when I see the caged and captive possibilities of a part of me that could have been were it not for time, for circumstance and the tenacity of fate.  I see the faces of my past standing helpless and alone in kennels and in cages, feeling shame for simply existing, and accepting the pain of being dehumanized and brutalized.  And I feel their pain and I sense their hopelessness and despair.  For there is a bond of flesh and blood and tears that knows no borders, no rivers, no walls.  I see in each of them the tangled and tortured roots that helped to nurture and sustain the body and the soul that defines the person that I am. 

I have heard the hollow cries, and seen the smoldering ashes of my past.  I have heard the stories and experiences of scattered and shattered dreams and abandoned hope left littered and strewed like discarded refuse after a storm, by overwhelmed and exhausted dreamers lured to the river’s edge by the human instinct simply to survive and thrive.  I can but imagine the plight and the delight that brought my ancestors to venture across the waters of the Rio Grande at a time before the gathering shadows that now darken my heritage and my legacy. 

Like those that dared the perils of a voyage across the seas to land at Plymouth Rock, my ancestors too were pilgrims following their rainbow and their dreams across a flowing river by a valley that promised hope and expectations beyond their imaginations.  We were no different from those that dared to dream in English, just because we dreamt in Spanish and Indian dialects, and had brown-toned skin.  Both white and brown pilgrims sought the bounties of virgin fields and fruited plains.  Both saw the beauty and the majesty that would one day be America.  They had passion and compassion, undimmed by human tears.  And each possessed sense and sensibilities to understand the severity and gravity of their past, the uncertainty of their predicament in a new land, and the possibilities and opportunities before them. 

America’s beginning is part of my heritage, although my ancestors may not have stepped off the Mayflower.  Too many twists and turns along the way decided who would get the leverage and control, and who would have, and who would not.  It is the unchanging story of human history.  Power, greed and prejudice.  It can overwhelm the human mind and human heart, and defeat and crush the spirit and the strength of dreamers of any kind from any place.  And so, it came to be along the Rio Grande.

I grew up listening to tales of bravery and of cowardice, of hatred and of tolerance.  I heard of lynchings and of beatings, and was astonished at the acceptance of these things with such humility and meekness by those that once had dared to dream.  I was too young to fully understand the meaning of those stories and recollections.  Yet, even then, I saw and lived the meaning of those actions and those deeds, long after they had become yarns, legends and folklore, told around a burning fire on cold, dark nights. 

How time has razed the memories of our past and helped to veil the remnants of our disgrace and humiliation.  Our children’s children cannot comprehend, much less begin to understand the hurt that still remains in some of us who lived the hate and saw the tears that flowed so many years ago. 

And it is the reawakening of our cruel and ugly past, and the resurgence of the hate, that has ignited long dormant passions within my soul for the plight of those that shared to dream the dreams that began my legacy of promise, hope and fulfilment. 

When I see the gathering of broken hearts along the river bank, I also see the tears being shed by mothers holding children, by old men clinging to a fading vision, and by young boys and men clutching scraps of hope and waning pride.  I cannot but reflect back to the days before my time, when dreams were meant to be realized and lived, despite all hardships or adversities. 

It is hard to witness the brilliance of the brotherhood of man demean, degrade and humiliate those fleeing the shadows of despair and seeking the warm rays of hope in a new land.  We are all the product of dreamers who once dared to seek and overcame all obstacles and barriers.  To deny or forsake the hope of those seeking refuge from the cold, is to forget our roots and our humanity. 

There are many things that I may never forget and that may still haunt me about growing up along the Rio Grande, despite my efforts to disremember.  However, there are also many moments that have helped to keep alive a heritage of dignity, grace, strength and faith – and each of those moments includes the gathering of hearts that surrounded me, nurtured me, guided me, taught me to hope and to dream.

And as the setting sun reflects its dimming brilliance on the meandering and flowing waters of the Rio Grande, it also exposes the tears of abandoned hope, and tears of defeat.

It is a gathering of hearts along the river bank that breaks my heart, and makes me wonder of days gone by, when my grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents, dared to dream and gathered at the river bank, looked across the river, and saw the rainbow beckoning.


Submitted: May 24, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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