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Hispanics giving us a dose of spirituality

LAST MONDAY I attended the unveiling of the mural on the front of the Catholic Community Services building (745 E. 300 South). Ruby Chacon painted it. And as with all of her work, the painting is vibrant, challenging, heartfelt and deeply spiritual.

Especially, spiritual.

Salt Lake City would be a less spiritual place without the likes of Ruby Chacon and other Hispanic artists.

The state itself would be poorer.

And the nation.

The irony, of course, is the people who would send millions of Latinos back south are often the same people who decry the loss of spirituality in America. Does it occur to them that the immigrants from Latino cultures are giving the nation a transfusion of spirit and faith? Do they realize the cavalry may have arrived, and they are sending them back?

I think — to quote a master teacher — such people know not what they do.

As I listened to LDS general conference, I was touched by the variety of accents wafting from the pulpit. And I was moved by the elegant faith of the speakers. To my ear, the Latin American speakers added a fresh type of sincerity and sweetness.

Who didn't feel the emotions well up as Elder Octaviano Tenorio told of finding out about the death of his newborn daughter as he was passing out chocolates to celebrate her birth? And then, later, telling how he returned to pass out those chocolates because he knew he would see her again.

Or Elder Claudio D. Zivic, whose talk sent me back to the buoyancy and spirit-soaked words of the Argentine poem, "Martin Fierro."

I find, in the spirituality of Hispanic Americans, an antidote for what ails us. Their hope and faith are resolute, their understanding of life and death healthier, their airy sense of the spirit is elevating.

Once, in Brigham City, I contributed a few dollars to the storefront church of a Hispanic minister friend. The donation could have bought a few hymn books or a collection plate, but he spent the money on flowers. Then he put those flowers in the front window of the church to give people the feeling they were entering a world of color, simplicity and fragrance.

People looking to rekindle the spirituality of America have the means before them. It's there, in the unbending faith, family love and constant prayers of the Hispanic people.

At the unveiling of Ruby Chacon's mural, the painting's sponsor, A. Scott Anderson of Zions Bank, stepped forward and spoke of "hope, optimism and new beginnings."

In effect, he spoke of "rebirth" — not only in our own lives but also in the lives of our communities and the organizations and institutions of our country.

Ruby Chacon put that rebirth on display in her marvelous mural.

Millions of other Hispanics put it on display as well, every day — in their values, dreams and spiritual strength.

We must be careful. If we send them away, we may be turning our backs on the very physician who can save us from our malaise.