sexta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2009

Who we are and what unite us

We are gathered in wonder around the goodness of life and its magnificent frolic.
Our consciousnesses awake to the richness of being a part of this event and want to act on it for better.
This participation starts with appreciation and care and becomes freedom of choice, not only between two options, but many good ones, plus the ones we may add to the play.
Even those who choose in a disorganized way will learn through their choices and contribute to the progress toward what we see as the good goal of life.
Belief or not belief in God is indifferent to us. Some believe in God some don’t, but we all believe in the Human Spirit.
Some of us like to link ourselves to a historical chain of similar understandings, some do remain in the religions of their families and some prefer to invent their own religion as they go on.
Some do believe in angels and miracles, some are materialistic.
We have together agreed to be pacifist, ecumenical, open to all, ecologically minded and socially engaged.
We also have agreed not to organize ourselves into a structured religion, nor adopt a hierarchy or religious titles.
We opted to free our vocabulary of words like lord, worship and similar ones.
We recognize no absolute truth but Life, no holy book but poetry, no rule or law but love.
For us there are no outsiders or insiders, we are all ONE: humans, no human animals, plants, minerals etc.
For us the perfect unity to the whole is only manifest through the individual, which is larger and more important then any community, which only fits as it empowers and highlight the individual.
We are anonymous and spread all over the place but we share this discovery of Life through our daily lives and, because of it, become quite visible to all. We are everybody in a moment or another. We are you!
Onaldo Alves Pereira

sexta-feira, 31 de julho de 2009

Near to the heart of God

“There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God” says the old hymn.
Such pious geography of the spiritual real can be beautiful and comforting. It all depends on the strings attached or not to the heavy laden figures we sing about. Sometimes, beauty and emotions are used to soak into our spirits a whole load of theological “truth”. A private God, whose heart beats according to the doctrines written in “our book”. Coming near to this vitiated “heart”, implies giving in into an exclusive path of faith and practice. Such a heart invites nearness because it also pulls away the disagreeing ones, the others, the godless, and the unbelievers. Such a heart could never be a resting place if only for the chosen ones.
Oh, yes, I can sing this song with joy, but only if sure that there is no place away from the sung heart, no one strange to its life giving work and, no possibility for a estrangement from it.
Believers or nonbelievers, religious of whatever religions or non religious, all are life responding to Life, life within Life, Life itself.
If we can sing this song without fencing and labeling the place – the place of life – near to the heart of God – Life – then we are free from the sugary manipulations of religion / power at the most primitive level.
Onaldo Alves Pereira

Dry season afternoon

We are surrounded by struggling trees, leaves falling and bare limbs stretched in the dusty dry air as if begging for help. Dry brown vines fall, melting down from tree branches.
A green happy stain in the dry ochre background, against all odds, the vegetable garden grows at its best.
This is mid dry season here.
The air humidity is below 15% and breathing hurts. Hot afternoons follow chilly mornings. The surfaces of everything crack. There is a soothing sadness about all of this.
My sleepy mind can’t function well and enters a dream world, half unspoken prayer, half liquid scenes of the place where I am. I doze away.
Onaldo Alves Pereira

quinta-feira, 7 de maio de 2009

Quincas died - 1969

Mané and Quincas, the two sexagenarian homeless guys living with us slept on the floor, on soft mattresses, made by my mother with an especial kind of grass, harvested from a neighbors’ swamp, where it grew wild. The freshly made beds smelt great. It provided perfect sleep alright.
Daybreak brought life back into business. I woke with a weird noise, as if a cat was being strangled. Quincas was having an attack and my father, holding his hands, whispered a shaky Ave Maria prayer.
Quincas died and was buried before God called it a day. A sad day!

quarta-feira, 15 de abril de 2009


It was over a year of only one, increaseling smaller meal a day in our home – or, more precisely, 621 days, or meals. I did count the meals, not the days. After a while, my calendar notebook was made of such fine information as:
250th meal – ate when the sun draw just a line of shade on the fruitless avocado tree and we had only one guest over for supper, what means we could have been left with more refried beans for us, had not the guest really loved mothers cooking.
Mother and father got sick together. She had, what later, two days before she died, we found out was cancer. My father struggled with the same neuromuscular disease now I suffer myself. Then, daddy – papai – decided this was time to tell our family, the two of them and me, we had no more food. Because of me, he said, he had hidden the real situation until food was over for good. Now I had to face it, prepared or not. I was 13 years old by then. He told me that the time would come, God willing my survival, when I should wipe off the slate and start anew

sexta-feira, 13 de março de 2009


Cats are around me all day long. Sometimes they make my agenda without even consulting me. If I open a book and one of the cats thinks it makes a good bed, goodbye reading.
Eating can also be a challenge. As soon as I help myself to some food here comes the eight cats meowing. Each of them has its own peculiar preferences and methods of approaching me for a bite. Amarelinho loves fruits, specially papaya and mango. The older black mammy, Pretinha, is very polite and won’t eat until everybody else eats.
A few years ago I would not allow anyone to rule me this way, never had time for more than a passing pet on my beloved felines. Now, as my body decided to pin me down to a place and completely change my notion of time, these beautiful beings, the cats, help me to survive another day.

domingo, 8 de fevereiro de 2009

That was a good day!

Today dad brought two homeless people to live with us. The day was counting its last minutes before sunset. The chickens were coming home to roost for safety from skunks and foxes. Warm orange gaining grey dashes here and there, was the color of the moment.
“These poor fellows need a home, good food and somebody to chat with. Come, Onaldo, ask them to bless you” Dad called.
“Bênção! (bless me)” I said, shaking their nervous wet hands.
“Deus te abençoe! (God bless you)” They answered in unison.
That was a good day!

Returning, not departing

“Returning, not departing,
My steps are homeward bound;
I quit the land of strangers,
For home on native grounds.”

German Baptist Hymns, 403

The hymn words collected emotions old and new into a single assurance of peace, no matter what. No reasons given, no questions asked, beyond and also within all these human workings of the mind stand the Creator of all. Amazing is the fact that the Hand I feel holding mine here and now belongs to God, the One ever Present. Not a gene in me or around me is empty of meaning, or unable to responding to Love, the organizer of life.
Words are but words and play according to the move within. Short of saying what is really meant and prey of illusions, they only point to it and faint, worn out and empty. So, the Hand, the Peace, the Arrival Complete, is only to be fully lived as life itself, not less than love indeed.

quinta-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2009

Books to eat

Reading as I was, important I would not miss to be and, the show was on stage every time an audience seemed to form. Big words I pronounced slowly, gluing each syllable in each ear available to make sure they would learn how great I was about to turn as books were turning in.
Mom was not convinced a bit. One day, when I tried to complicate the simplest meaning of life, embroidering them with golden filigrees of dictionary rare words, my mother asked me the definitive questions. “Is it eatable? Does it smell good? Does it beautify the world?” She wanted to know about my thoughts and fancy words.
Since then, this is the rule I use to measure theology, philosophy and speech. Can it be eaten?!
I think Jesus would agree with my mother. When it came to the point when everyone around him expected a profound exposure of his message he washed peoples feet, broke bread and shared wine: “This is my body!”

segunda-feira, 2 de fevereiro de 2009

1972 Nature speaks

1972 Nature speaks
After a long drought carved its ugliness into our souls soil, a storm swallowed up our entire grass roof, erased the bridge which linked us to the world and washed away the manure we had sprayed on the rice field to be.

Happiness as gustative joy
Mom cooked blue sweet potatoes, sugarcane half-meter pieces and small tender manioc roots on hot ashes. The fragrance of such exquisite cuisine covers the whole valley and all creatures gather together for the agape feast. Besides this, mother prepared green mangoes marmalade and pumpkin pieces preserves seasoned with cinnamon and clove.
The smell of this mixture became, since then, the smell of happiness to me.

sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2009

With the Bible

The Old Testament was too much for me. I could not take the God it presented, drowning the world and commanding slaughters and genocides. Mom and Dad and even our worse neighbor, who spanked his children and wife almost daily, were sure better then this God, I thought. Padre Nicolau, our local priest, was, also, of a God much more fun loving, forgiving and compassionate than this.
I abandoned the Bible under my bed in a palm tree leaves basket.
Ages after such, having the hibiscus blossoms renewed its strength and polished its color with kind and soft sun beams many a time, the Bible I recovered into my curiosity.
Reading the Sermon on the Mount I finally found out where God had hidden Godself in that old strange book. Jesus gained a fan. I was 13 years old by then and much more would come on this…

quinta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2009

Can I say a prayer?

Can I say a prayer?
God, can I tell you what You already know, just for the sake of my own insecurity?
I guess I am just sending my mind a note, where it reads:
I am grateful for life and for this specific moment of life;
I am anxious for more of it; even though pain tries hard to spoil it.
And, I become a bit confused, not to say a lot confused: Gaza, Africa and my next door poor neighbor’s hungry children, make me uncomfortable with my complaints, but I am in need indeed, and it hurts.
Yet, I am calm inside; I can rest in knowing Your love, and Your love I know for sure by being known by Your Love!
When I reach to touch my wounds I feel your fingerprints carved there, and how could it be otherwise, since You still makes me!

quarta-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2009

Hunger, ours and that of others

Hunger, ours and that of others, was the most degrading experience of my existence. As an adult I would find suffering discrimination as the second worse situation.
A child can’t understand why something demanded naturally by all beings is not met by, also naturally. Food lacking blots the mind before eating the body inside out.
Finding a Bible
1972, afternoon.
Wrapped in coarse old cloth I could feel either a book or a box. Both possibilities fascinated me, since the inside of them usually carried whole worlds of its own. I already had galaxies of parts, fragments or entire books and boxes – small galaxies, I have to confess – but imagined immense ones out there, everywhere.
A moldy, old dark hard cover Bible was hidden in that wrap. Of course, it was a complete novelty to me.
Not enough kerosene, or castor oil for the lamps and I was stopped at the end of Exodus, before morning arrived bringing in its tray of lights toasted manioc flower cakes and strong coffee, fresh from the coffee trees in the yard.
Mom and morning were sisters and alike in inventing delicacies and smells.

terça-feira, 27 de janeiro de 2009

“This is my body: take it, restore it to its grandeur and abundance”, says the world of God!
Shall we partake of this Holy Communion with all of our being?
Yeas, of course we shall!

I’ve never been ambitious, but utterly curious, yes!

I’ve never been ambitious, but utterly curious, yes!
My earliest memories are of me sneaking into my mothers sewing drawers,
and being completely taken by the colorful buttons and threads.
My mother had a hard time keeping things in once piece: her sewing machine, alarm clock, medicines and kitchen utensils.
My father was driven nuts as I dug into his small shed and broke into his seed bags, axes, ropes and nails.
At the age of fourteen I had my room packed with a huge and chaotic collection of everything. This collecting and reading were my time’s all consuming business. Work, what I started at the age of five, helping my parents as the only child, in the field, was just a lapse in the important matters of life. Soon enough, thinking also became a great exercise, which I could carry on all day long, no matter what.
No electricity or running water on our dirt floor “drunk on a loose rope” house. Home, really; calling where we lived a house would be to stretch the universe of meanings away too far.
By morning my nostrils and eyelids were laden with lamp-black, I had pushed the night hours through the pages of a book or the re-reorganizing of my Babel like collection of everything.
Going to school the next morning was a must, but not a routine, as I often had to detour to work instead.