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The moral of the story, if it can be called such, is that the key to harmony is tolerance of others' customs and beliefs. Although the Catholic missionary and the Pueblo Indians have a very different perspective on death, their mutual willingness to respect each others' positions allows them to live peacefully together, and perhaps learn from each other. When old Teofilo dies, the Indians turn to their carefully prescribed traditions to prepare him for his journey after life. There is no anxiety about Teofilo's passing, because it is just part of the natural order of things. The Indians wrap his body, paint his face with the colors of the earth, and offer cornmeal so he will not get hungry on his way. The people then ask the priest to bring holy water, in recognition that his teachings have touched them in some way with their power, but in their literal interpretation, the water is to keep Teofilo from being thirsty, rather than to sanctify his soul. The priest, knowing that the Indians do not ascribe the same sacred meaning that the Church does to the holy water and its rites, at first refuses. He then reconsiders, and in a gesture of respect and mutual acceptance, sprinkles the water on the body of Teofilo as he is lowered into the ground.
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