The Death of Andonie and Our Creation Story

By Vinnie Busch, SSC
(Left) Andonie's burial site. (Right) Andonie's daughter, Melanie (14 y.o.), and son, Bernabe (11 y.o.).
        As I reflect on the life and death of Andonie and her close relationship with the natural world, I also reflect on the Story of God’s Creation and how it is interrelated with the life-giving death of Jesus.  Indeed, Jesus’s life-giving death and resurrection can be seen as the “Way” the Trinity incorporated life-giving deaths and rebirths within the entire Creation Story.  Jesus pointed out that “Way” when he talked about seeds needing to die so that new plant life could emerge (John, chapter. 24).
       We are now designing cards for Christmas 2024.  These cards will feature the night sky over Bethlehem and the journey of the shepherds to the stable. Shepherds, in the time of Jesus, were considered the least in their community yet they were chosen before kings to be the first to see the Love of God made flesh and laying in a manger. 
       Like in last year’s Christmas cards, we will place scenes from the Nativity Story inside an image of the Earth and within our Solar System.  The night sky in our cards will have the Star of Bethlehem which brings to mind the explosive death of a luminous supernova whose ashes, over eons of time, coalesced into the planets and sun that now make up our Solar System.  The ashes of that exploding star are the minerals and elements that form our bodies.  The ashes from that star formed the body of Mary and, through her, the Body of Jesus.  Indeed, when we see the Christmas Story within the Story of God’s Creation, we can see that Jesus is truly one of us.  We even share in our bodies the ashes from a star whose death made all life possible here in Earth.  
        Lent is a time when we reflect on our participation in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.  At this time I reflect on life and death of Andonie and on how beautifully she crafted Creation Mandalas.  I also reflect on how these Mandalas honor the Love of the Creator throughout the Story of Creation.  The first beaded design in the Creation Mandala is entitled, “The Birth of the Universe”.  Here is its image with the verse that goes with it:
 With that beaded image in mind, my Ash Wednesday prayer for Andonie and for her unborn child and for all is:
“Remember that we are dust forged in the explosive death of a star. Our Creator came to live with us here on our star-dusted Earth, and here he died so that we can rise with him to a fuller life on Earth and then into the eternal embrace of our Loving Creator.”  
The 4 original Subanen crafters in 2001 (left to right: Jovie Balido and her sister Rodilyn Balido, (Me), Marcelita (nee Balives) Balido, and her sister, Andonie Balives, at our first Mandala crafting workshop
Original subanen crafters in 2021
Those same Crafters in the same order in 2021 holding Creation Mandalas