"Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world.”
St. Oscar Romero
“I believe in a church that is a sign of the presence of God’s love in the world, where men and women extend their hands and encounter one another as sisters and brothers.”
St. Oscar Romero
Since I can remember I’ve strived to be a peacemaker. For me this meant a certain discomfort with conflict, a desire for people to come together, I thought with right words I could “convince” people to find middle ground. It should not surprise you that I was an early talker, who was argumentative, people person, and connector.
I also loved words, written, spoken, sung, love rhymes and rhythms. I could legitimately be called a romantic, idealist, a realistic radical. I believe that words and sounds can help us connect, can open our imaginations, and pave a pathway for peace. Not an empty, half-hearted peace. Not a peace rooted in injustice, denial of reality, nor passive-aggressive apathy, but one rooted in robust reflection, intentional engagement, and gospel life.
My call to pastoral life was rooted in my call to be a peace-maker, reconciler, and justice-seeker. I believed that the Church was the institution uniquely suited, empowered, and birthed for such reconciling work. Our encounter with Jesus, love incarnate, the ideal starting point, our original-meaning making-life transforming myth, the Gospel, the best words for a hungry and needy world.
This last year has been an exercise in discovery, reclaiming, and conversion.
As an idealist I was bitter and angry that my pastoral leadership had not born the fruit of my vision of the good news of Jesus Christ. Had not become the robust community of peace, justice, and reconciliation that I imagined it could be and should be. At times it seemed like it had gone backwards. The demons of my own story creeping in, my chronic impostor syndrome, the colonialist voices of past encounters, and my generalized anxiety disorder overwhelming my horizon, further deepening my hopelessness.
From when will my help come from?
Mujerista Theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz centers conversion in “lo cotidiano” - the domestic/every day/daily life.
“Lo cotidiano, then, refers to the space—time and place—which we face daily, but it also refers to how we face it and to our way of dealing with it.”
Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz “Mujerista Discourse: A Platform for Latinas’ Subjugated Knowledge” in Decolonizing Epistemologies: Latino/a Theology and Philosophy, Isasi-Diaz and Mendieta ed. (49)
So it began with paying attention to how the divine was showing up in my daily life. In the coffee cups in the morning with my spouse, in the carpool line as I waited for the kids, in the grocery list, in cooking the evening meal, in tears with those I loved I most about what we had lost, in sharing doubts about God with closest friends, in attempts to numb the anxiety and pain I felt, in showing up around font, pulpit, and table when I felt like I had nothing to give, in long cigar smokes on the porch, in middle of the night insomnia, in poetry, salsa music, and the voice of my parents, in text messages with my beloved, in conversations with parishioners about God, in the wonder of young children at the preschool, and in the surprises of the year.
At each moment conversion emerging, forgiveness present, and true-self coming to the forefront. I realized how tired I was of being angry, bitter, and defeated. I awakened to the fact that I was privileged beyond belief, and that maybe now that “my dreams” had crashed, the deity could begin the work in me. This work can be summarized simply: LOVE!
I want to be an agent of love. I want to seek peace and reconciliation because “God so loved the world.” I don’t want to hate anyone, be bitter against anyone, and I do not want to allow difference to cause me to alienate and dehumanize anyone.
So here are some commitments as I celebrate forty-two:
A commitment to the way of Jesus as “el Evangelio” - a commitment to a sermon on the mount life, to nonviolent resistance, to 1 Corinthians 13 love.
A commitment to more mindful domesticity.
A commitment to family over work.
A commitment to humanized justice.
A commitment to antiracism work rooted in “el Evangelio” - for me this means also antisexist, antihomophobic, antitransphobic, and anticolonialist.
A commitment to work against dehumanization.
A commitment to NO social media arguments and NO violent speaking of any kind against anyone (especially those that I disagree with).
A commitment to speak my truth in love and humility (but to speak it).
A commitment to holy courage.
A commitment to decolonization of Church and culture.
A commitment to a fully inclusive Church and culture.
A commitment to live simpler but more joyfully.
A commitment to conciliar leadership - more wisdom in the body than any individual.
A commitment to rooted pastoral life in and among “el pueblo” - the people - not the “church” people but ALL people.
A commitment to sabbath keeping.
A commitment to questions, listening, and working “en conjunto.”
A commitment to more reflection in my native tongue — reading, writing, and listening.
A commitment to lifting up more female, brown, black, and LGBTQi+ voices.
A commitment to humility that leads to constant conversion.
A commitment to seeing the divine in the unexpected.
I am thankful for the communities that have been the “school for conversion” in the last year:
Shannon, Seth, Isabelle, and Lucas - my domestic partners, kin, blood, and closest neighbors whose love has been converting, healing, and transformative.
Family (blood and chosen) who have encouraged, listened, inspired, made me laugh, challenged, heard my confessions and reminded me that I am forgiven.
Houma First that in spite of my continued ambivalence, struggle, and love/hate relationship with the “church” have welcomed, loved, and encouraged my pastoral life.
Collaborative Inquiry Team whose companioning has brought much joy, love, awakening, hope, and acceptance.