Introducing the Memoria Issue
WHAT IS THE wisdom of the autumn? What lessons does the season of el otoño offer?
As several of the contributors to this issue remind us, fall is a transitional season—a time of shifting the balance from longer days to longer nights. Fall presents a time to slow down, look inward, and remember.
As we observe lessons from nature, we remember that life is both fleeting and giving. We remember that leaves turn, that fruit ripens and falls, that plants begin to offer themselves back to the earth so that they may be recycled into new soil—soil that, in turn, nurtures and integrates itself into new forms of life. The cycles of nature remind us that the past and present are interconnected: that past life sustains current life and that current life will, someday, sustain future life.
In our attention to cycles and transitions, we also take time to remember and celebrate those who live on within us. In this issue, you’ll find memories of loved ones who have made the journey, descriptions of Día de los Muertos traditions and celebrations, and instructions for ways to connect to ancestral roots. May you find inspiration in the contributors’ teachings and testimonios.
...on el Día de los Muertos, when you commune with your ancestors and leave them gifts, may you also remember that you are your ancestors’ gift back to you.
I’m sure you have varying views about ancestors, dear readers: some of you may know ancestral spirits and past lives quite literally, while others may think of these energies more metaphorically. Either way, I encourage you to also take a moment to remember who lives on within you.
In my case, I remember my grandmother and her ancestral line every time I look down at my own hands. Her hard-working hands are there in mine: the knuckles, the veins, the olive skin, the long fingers that whipped yarn around with a crochet hook, that measured out just the right amount of flour by touch, that rolled out balls of tortilla dough and flipped them on the comal. They are creative hands. And they remind me to create, to make, and to honor the artistic gifts that live on through me.
So I encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge yourself. Look, perhaps, at your own eyes in the mirror. Who still lives on in those eyes—in the color, the shape, the lashes? Whose beauty lives on in your nose, your cheeks, your feet? Whose voice carries on in the way you laugh, sing, or teach? Whose gifts and talents live on through you? What urgencies do you feel? Even if you didn’t know the individuals who bestowed them, what positive legacies do you carry? May you remember and celebrate these gifts. And on el Día de los Muertos, when you commune with your ancestors and leave them gifts, may you also remember that you are your ancestors’ gift back to you.