Spiritual awakenings in Austin —
August 16, 2017

Spiritual awakenings in Austin

By Gavin L Garcia

Dia de los Muertos is Sunday, Nov. 1, fittingly marking the beginning of a month full of spiritual awakenings.

Austin’s Hindu community are preparing for Diwali – the festival of lights – on Nov. 11, one of the most popular dates on the South Asian calendar with celebrations scheduled at temples, Zilker Park and other locales.

The 8th annual Austin Asian American Film Festival returns from Nov. 12-15. This year’s offerings run the gamut of film genres from historical drama to punk rock opera, with parties and a comedy showcase also highlights.

One of my favorite events is the Interfaith Action of Central Texas’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. The 31st version is on Sunday, Nov. 22, 3 p.m. at St. John Regular Baptist Association.

Austinites of every faith tradition come together in a grand observance of religious pluralism. iACT Executive Director Simone Talma Flowers – one of my favorite people in the city – and her team work as hard as any organization for the greater good of the community throughout the year.

On the same Nov. 22 date, members of the Catholic faith community from around the state will gather in solidarity for the first March for Religious Freedom. The path takes the group from Wooldridge Square Park at 10 a.m. to the Texas State Capitol. The Knights of Columbus are orchestrating the proceeding to cast a spotlight on worshippers under assault for following personal beliefs. It’s also a reaction against what some see as media bias in coverage of Planned Parenthood and same-sex marriage. That the march is in large measure a defensive act of necessity and that it can take place without hindrance in our progressive, liberal-minded capital speaks well of Austin.

Chuy's Children Giving to Children parade
Chuy’s Children Giving to Children parade

Speaking of divine experiences, Chuy’s Children Giving to Children parade is on the horizon, Saturday, Nov. 28, at 11 a.m. The parade includes one of Austin’s singular experiences when the parade pauses to allow kids to approach floats with a donated item for another child. The anticipation on their faces leading up to that moment reflects the essence of Austin.

Another flattering portrayal of the community is the decision by Austin and Travis County to end cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Travis County Jail, in response to years of uproar over deportations.

My colleague in immigration rights, Alejandro Caceres, ICE Out of Austin campaign manager, explains, “Ending our collaboration with ICE is our only next sensible step in the county. We cannot continue to say that we are an immigrant-friendly county while still allowing our jails to be the first step to separation for some of our residents. I think you know you’re doing the right thing on immigration when Gov. Abbott disagrees with you.”

I couldn’t agree more.

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Commissioner Brigid Shea said they would support the City of Austin if it decided to find a way to end the collaboration with immigration and with local law enforcement on this issue.

That’s the kind of spirit that will move us in a positive direction.

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