Authors meet such interesting people along the way. When authors of any type of fiction, find that their characters begin speaking to them, literally dictating their story they become friends we meet and visit with sometimes for a season as in a short story, sometimes for a lifetime of writing as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes did. Add to that experience the startling reality that what we researched can validate another persons history that they themselves are not sure of and you will understand my surprise when I decided to revisit a poo pourri critique group led by a wonderful man many refer to as Bahia Rob, and emailed my pages to those who attended.
Upon arriving, I was greeted warmly, enjoyed chatting with those that I knew, met some new members, and heard about their projects. As the group began, Rob asked me, since I was in the process of being published to share, which I did. When the critiquing process was to begin, Rob asked me to begin, and I agreed. When I finished, I happily took a back seat hoping to observe, listen, and learn. However, much to my surprise it seemed that the women were of one accord. For having read my Historical Notes and the first paragraph of book two of the Casa Saga, they praised my writing comparing it to such luminaries as Francine Rivers and wanted to know more about the second Casa de Naomi novel and Tía Rosa.
I was surprised that these well-read women compared my work to one of my favorite authors. But I was more surprised when a new member joined the group because she seemed to me to be a kinswoman though how I sensed that I did not know. Nor did I understand why I suggested that we go to lunch together, especially since I was trying to save money. As we began to dialogue while we ate is seemed that the offhanded remark I had made as we crossed the parking lot had resonated with her for instead of her asking me why I had thought she was Jewish she said, “You said I was a Jew. How do you know that?” I do not know why I said what I said, but assumed to was Adonai who chose my next comment for me for instead of answering her I began speaking about my researching the Sephardim, and that those who fled the Mexican Inquisition had traveled as far as Colorado and married plains Indians like the Apache. She interjected some amazing comments and before half and hour had passed I realized that I was sitting with a Sephardic Jew who had not been sure if what she thought about her history was true until our meeting. Yet here she was a woman whose family had journals, diaries, and papers from the Spanish crown dated during the time of Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva (1589), who was himself a converso (a Jew baptized into the Catholic faith during the Inquisition), and the first governor of New Spain.
I was as excited to meet and speak with Parrish, as I had been to meet and speak with Phillip - a distant cousin to the direct decedent of Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva because all research showed that every member of that family but a distant niece had died during the Inquisition. Yet there was Phillip and now Perrish to verify their history. However, as amazed as Perrish was, she was circumspect as well she should have been. Where Phillip had always known who he was and what his heritage was, Perrish needed to begin a lengthily search, and like many she found that her family affirmed what she suspected, but others, especially those she contacted about taking the DNA test did not. Undaunted, she pressed on.
Two months later, we meet at the critique group again. This time she did not come because my pages had piqued her interested. This time she came to share about her journey. After that group and another lunchtime discussion with Perrish, I found the email I have posted below, as you read it please remember that 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
After spending the past two months researching and uncovering me and my families Sephardic roots-- thanks to you--as I read these testimonies a kindred spirit sparks in my heart. Thank you for expelling the healing oils of courage out from your soul and onto mine! You’re a "mend setter"...
To read what my Sephardic friend did, please visit http://CasadeNaomi.blogspot.com and read my post entitled "A Sephardic Voice.