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I attended the University of the Americas in Mexico City during the 1967-68 school year. I was a junior, majoring in Philosophy. Logic and dialectic were the tools with which I proved and examined all statements and beliefs.
I believed man’s power-indeed, his every humanity-revolved around his ability to reason. Accordingly, I scorned anything that smacked of the “irrational,” including religious experiences of an extraordinary nature, psychic phenomena, and out-of-body experiences.
During the Christmas vacation of 1967 some friends and I rented a villa in the seaside town of Playa Azul. This Pacific Ocean town is approximately two hundred miles north of Acapulco. Our live-in maid and cook was a woman named Maria Sanchez, a charming, although quiet and serious woman of about fifty-five years. because of a severe sunburn I spent most of the vacation relaxing in the Villa and I got to know Maria rather well.
Although she had little formal schooling, she possessed a quick wit and keen sense of observation. Our long talks ranged freely from topic to topic. She was deeply religious and told me many stories of miracles and visions. I dis-missed these tales as local folklore. She firmly maintained that she herself had seen visions. I laughed and told her she had an overactive imagination.
After I returned to the United States I occasionally wrote Maria a short letter or postcard. She answer regularly with long. Carefully written letters. In 1970 I was drafted into the army and sent to Vietnam. My faith in reason was shattered by the hell I found there. This is what “rational” men do? I asked myself.
In September 1970 I was wounded and sent to the regimental hospital. I was in a state of deep depression and knew that I would never survive my tour of duty. I was certain I would be killed or crippled, or that I would “freakout”.
One night I had the most vivid dream in my life. I was sitting on a beach in my uniform with my rifle by my side. Maria sat by me silently and stroked my head. Her cool, soothing palm on my forehead filled me with a wonderful peace.
I awoke the next morning feeling calm and somehow confident that everything would turn out for the best. I immediately sat down and wrote Maria a letter. I returned to duty strangely purged of my depression. In late December I received a letter from Maria’s daughter Graciela Moises.
She apologized for not writing sooner. Her mother, she told me, had died in September. She said that her mother had been very fond of me and often had spoken of me.
I still think about Maria often. I am certain that our friendship transcended those barriers of time and space in a manner that cannot be explained logically or “rationally.”
Francis E. kazemek