Original artwork by Geraldine Weld
In my mind she is a saint in triumphal submission.
I came across her eight years ago, caught by the fluid vitality of her gesture in cast bronze, immortalized in an ecstasy of worship.
Possibly I neglected to read the plaque beneath the statue, or else simply forgot her name, her significance, while walking quickly on to keep up with my traveling companions. But her image was captured in my camera, and more so, in my imagination.
So it wasn’t until being asked about this contribution to Macalla that I did due diligence to find out “which saint this is, for the benefit of my dear Anglican friends who pay attention to these things.”
Ah, but then it turns out she is not so much canonized by the Church, but by pop culture. Chabuca Granda is her popular name, and if you are Peruvian you have heard her music all your life. She is a legend, a songstress who broke convention both in music and in life.
Her rhythms bring to her poems a pulse of earthy life, utterly human, insistent, celebratory, messy with unmet longings.
And when we approach our Maker, coming undone with hands upward to an open heaven, do we not also bring the same?
“Music that stirs the most intimate fibers of the soul” Photograph taken in Barranco. Lima, Peru, 2008.