Pilgrim John of Guadalupe

Robin L. Chandler, 2018

Texas was my home when I was very young; I was born not far from the Chisholm Trail. Images of cowhands, cattle, big skies and prairies where you can see storms approaching for miles shaped me. Coupled with Western films directed by John Ford and Howard Hawks, I have a rich mythology that feeds and inspires my imagination. And somewhere along the way, I gave my father the mantle of JohnWayne, taciturn hero, wise in the ways of the world, a man of justice who could always be trusted to save the day. Myths. The truth would be revealed later. Maybe, it was easier to survive living in a fairy tale. Grown now, I realize the unfairness of saddling my father with that unrealistic responsibility; humans are human: beloved and flawed. But you cannot blame a child seeking safety in heroes.

In today’s world, where leaders make rash decisions and speak loudly and endlessly about their strength and prowess, I imagine the mythological “Duke” as Pilgrim John of Guadalupe the perfect Yin and Yang balance of the masculine and feminine come to save us from destruction in our desolation. Did I say I have a good imagination? And I hear John Wayne in the character Tom Doniphon from the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance say “Whoa there, take ‘er easy there Pilgrim,” as if to say, let’s calm down, take life a step at a time, and think about what’s really important, the impact of our actions, and what would be best for all concerned. Amen. A myth, but a grand one. Life is never as simple as a Western film; the solutions Westerns offer will not resolve the complicated challenges we face. But what we truly value is often expressed well in the clear and simple myths we enjoy and share. Yes, please “take ‘er easy there Pilgrim.” Hold steady…the planet’s future rests in our hands.

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