travelling through that small part of South America that I know. I couldn’t help noticing that there is a different sense of religion. of faith. of daily life. there is a deep feeling. a different way of seeing and thinking and believing. about ten thousand kilometres away from the Vatican.
sitting on a bench. on a bus. or on the seat of my father’s car during the endless journeys we take. I could see and listen to faith. and hope.
smiling women happened to be by my side and told me about love affairs misfortunes and vicissitudes. punctuated by gracias a Dios. or ni Dios quiera. la Virgencita... and making the sign of the cross at regular intervals. they stood up and went away. serene. with a light in their eyes.
everywhere, then. fruit cart. country bus. lorry. taxi. church. house. I read it clearly. often in the colours of the sky and the sun and the clouds. Dios te ama. Dios es amor. Jesús en ti confío.
crosses. flowers. holy pictures. plastic bottles full of water. they are everywhere in the streets. and testify the inexhaustible faith that lives in the hearts of the people of South America. in front of each church some passers-by will hastily make the sign of the cross. a gesture that is by now automatic. and will finally bring the knuckle of the index (invisible cross) to their lips and kiss it at the end of the rite. a pure and sensual gesture.
Love. is the key word. that becomes faith. hope. and a lot of good will. Love and God. Dios es Amor. and without love you can’t survive in South America. (as in Europe we slowly die). with the sugary boleros that my grandma loved to listen to. with the soap operas that every day at the same time become the meeting place for a whole country. maybe when a people believes in love. it can’t help believing in God. men and women accept their destiny. with a smile. and in the end. in the faraway horizon. in their eyes. you can always glimpse paradise. and if everybody sees it. paradise exists.
and it happened that. while I was photographing pelicans in the northernmost town of Chile. a man. El Pastillita. started to tell me the story of the pelicans and ended with his own. sitting on a wooden box that read Dios es amor. the same days when my mother happened to pass by that place with her spiritual temple. during their annual pilgrimage from South to North.
all this and much more that I have forgotten. or that I leave you the room to tell. it materializes here today. in the December issue. the month in which we remember about faith. even if it is to lose it. like when we decide to turn off hope.
at Christmas this year. Dios es amor. the secret lies in faith.