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embracing guadalupen theology

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embracing guadalupen theology

I wrote this a few years ago and wanted to repost in honor of today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   My reflection looks at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a “still speaking” text of liberation and wholeness.   ¡Que viva la Guadalupana!

Some music in honor of today:  La Guadalupana sung by Miriam Solis; a variation of the same song by Emmanuel and Alexander Hacha.


As I reflect over one of my favorite images of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, I realize the rich complexity and beauty within the apparition of la Morenita del Tepayac.  Just as in Galilee Mary’s yes and life pointed to God; so too in Mexico on a sacred mount Mary again points towards the path to God.   It is an apparition that does not have one meaning but speaks to us today on several levels.   The apparition has social, historic, and theological implications with new discoveries and meanings to consider with each look at the story.  Theologically, Guadalupe demonstrates God’s revelation through the unlikely hero, the need for safe space for divine encounter, and of the “un-boxing” of God’s revelation.

Throughout Biblical and Christian history, there are many examples of the underdog that saves the day.  In Guadalupe we come to see what God can do through the “nobody”, the outcast, and the rejected.  Just as God chose a poor Galilean Jewish girl to come into the world, God chose a poor indigenous man to reveal God’s plan for a new creation.  It is through the marginalized community that God planted seeds to fix the mess created by misguided, well-intentioned European colonizers—a revolu that is still being dealt with today.  Similar to stories in the Hebrew Bible, God demonstrates that God does not abandon God’s people but walks with the people and will provide a messiah. Mary, Joseph, Hagar, David, and Rahab are examples of people who were not hero material on the outside because of their gender, size, class, or fulfillment of cultural expectations but whose lives revolutionized their communities and history; Juan Diego is in this same line of known and unknown individuals that God uses to reveal truth, bring about change, and reflect divine love.  Though indigenous people were looked down upon and their culture seen as threat by Europeans, God sees potential and uses Juan to evangelize the Europeans and ultimately the world.   God holds up the rejected by calling an indigenous farmer to be a prophet, using the language and symbolism of the “conquered” to deconstruct harmful rhetoric, and comes to the people through Mary’s apparition as one of them through one of them to bring wholeness and liberation.

The story of Guadalupe reflects the need for safer spaces to connect with God.  Europeans came and destroyed the lives (on every level) of the Indigenous people of the Americas.  Native communities were flattened through a “salvation” of coercion and  humiliation—all in the name of God and in the name of progress, globalization, and evangelization.  People along with their traditions, beliefs, and way of life were completely eradicated because they were perceived to be less human (difference, like today, was seen as a threat to be silenced and conquered).  European notions of God, customs, dress, and education were forced upon tribes.  The conquest and colonization did not give people the space to desahogarse of their traumatic experience or grieve the loss of their livelihood as a community who became strangers in their own land—land that they had worked, bought with their sweat and blood, built homes on, and was a source of connection to the divine.  They were violated, blamed for being violated, and had no outlet to express these feelings. A dynamic that sadly continues today with other marginalized groups who are re-victimized by being blamed for the dominant group’s harsh treatment of them.

The missionaries’ church was not a place of encounter with God but a place of fear, pain, and terror.  Why would the indigenous people who were being evangelized and forced to convert want to come close to a god or deity who obliterated their sense of self, their land, their families, and their way of life?  Before any relationship with God could be created and fostered, it was necessary to establish spaces where people could heal and find God in travesty and tribulation.  God was not freely found but imposed—that is not healing, forgiving, liberating, or “whole-making” but just deepens the wounds.  As with other forms of violence, people than and now begin to believe the lies told to them by their oppressors.  It is beautiful and amazing how Mary greets Juan Diego; her greeting in his mother tongue begins to restore dignity that was taken from his people. Guadalupe provided a safe space by reclaiming a sacred site as a place of divine encounter, demonstrating that indigenous practices were not evil but good, and planted the seeds for a new beginning for both natives and foreigners.  Though the story of Guadalupe has brought healing and created a safer space, I believe that the Church needs to take a step further to apologize for its actions in the 1500s and not hide behind the image of Our Lady.  The story of Guadalupe shows how God reached out to create a sanctuary where people could encounter the divine on their own terms and through their own unique self and to begin a new creation from the pain of chaos and confusion (a message that has many implications for pastoral work today).

God’s work through the unlikely hero and the creation of safer spaces demonstrates that God’s complex and liberating revelation can be revealed to us through simple means that truly pack a punch.  Through Juan Diego’s testimony, the tilma with Our Lady’s image, and guadalupen roses God continues to speak to us today in a truly remarkable way.  We sometimes get caught up in the grandiose and in the bells-and-whistles; we often forget that God speaks in the “still small voice”.   Guadalupe was a reminder than and now that God can use anything as a microphone to speak God’s message of love and justice for all.  Guadalupe shows how God spoke and continues to speak through the rejected and marginalized to the Church and to society.  God’s message can come through the institution and hierarchy of the Church but it is not confined to it.  God speaks through the whole church choosing prophets from every level of church from bishops to forgotten campesinos.  The message of Guadalupe did not come from a learned philosopher but from a simple man eager to please his dulce Señora­—the message that was given was directed from the pueblo to the higher-ups (not vice versa as is often the case). God used Juan Diego and La Morenita to remind us that God’s revelation is bigger than the neat little box we try to put it in and is not limited to one person or a select few.

The story of Guadalupe has multiple meanings and was an event in history that continues to speak to us today. It’s messages take on new significance with each reading of the events that took place.  Hopefully we continue to learn, listen, and live what Guadalupe said and continues to say to us today as individuals, community, and church.   ¡Que viva la Guadalupana!

 

pridefully reflecting and remembering

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pridefully reflecting and remembering

This week at ohio university we have been celebrating pride week. On Wednesday as part of the festivities, we had a candle vigil to reflect and remember the challenges as well as joys we have experienced as individuals and as a community. Below is the reflection I shared.

Reflect and Remember

A queerfelt muchas gracias to you all for your presence tonight.

Tonight we reflect and we remember, not to get stuck in the past but to inspire and transform our nows and our tomorrows.

We reflect and we remember the challenges and tragedies we have endured as a community…
–The murders of Matthew Shephard, David Kato, and Gwen Arujo
–The assaults on two queer women last month in Hocking College
–The kids who are kicked out of their homes for living and loving beyond the norm
–The spiritual violence of “God Hates Fags” that has broken individuals to the point of suicide
–The countless and often unknown victims of sexualized violence who identify as trans or gender variant
–The OU person who tweeted last semester that they don’t feel safe on campus because they are gay
–The misrepresentation and otherization of our vibrant and diverse community in the media and other social networks

Despite the challenges and tragic hardships, we also joyfully reflect upon and queerfully remember the celebrations, revolutions, and radicalness of our community. We reflect and we remember…
–Sylvia Rivera and all those who refused to be bullied and silenced at Stone Wall
–The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the states that have taken steps to respect same-sex and same-gender loving relationships
–The bravery of athletes Britteny Griner, Jason Collins, Kye Allums, and Tom Daley for challenging notions of masculinity and femininity within the sports world.
–That OU has and is and will be taking steps to fully live into diversity and inclusion…having an LGBT Center, Gender Neutral Housing, and hopefully fully approving the LGBTQ Studies Certificate
–The Inspirational witnesses of author activists Janet Mock and Kate Bornstein whose deconstruction and reconstruction of gender has given people hope and has sent a message that we are more then our genitals
–We celebrate the laughter of shows like Will & Grace, Modern Family, and GLEE who have raised awareness that we are here and we are queer!

We reflect and we remember our heroes and sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes”…
–Gloria Anzaldua
–Albus Dumbledore
–Bayard Rustin
–Sally Ride
–Langston Hughes
–Harvey Milk
–Alice Walker
–Neil Patrick Harris
–Zachary Quinto
–RuPaul
–Ellen Degeneres
–Laverne Cox
Trail blazers past and present, who spark and kindle our commitment to a justice and equality in which ALL are welcome truly means ALL are welcome.

We reflect and we remember our anthems…
–Christina’s “Beautiful”
–Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”
–Cindi Laupers “True Colors”
–Gaga’s “born this way”
–Macklemore’s “same love”
–And most recently, Frozen’s “let it go”

We reflect and we remember ourselves, we take pride in our journeys of living and expressing who we are…We honor all of who we are, our bloopers and our triumphs as individuals and as familia…We take pride in our efforts to embody being a rainbow in the clouds of others…We take pride in our goods, our bads, and our freaking awesomeness!

We reflect and we remember that all of us without exception IS fabulous, fierce, glitterful, amazing, unicornlicious…We reflect and we remember that we are and will continue to be bangass rainbow warriors.

Muchas gracias! Que asi sea


featured image taken on Wednesday…Athens’ skyline “happy pride” to all

enjoy the confusion

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enjoy the confusion

I know I am not alone, there are many in my life and many more I don’t know throughout the world who are going through tough times–wrestling with insecurities, grappling with self doubt, dealing with relationship struggles, and my personal favorite the vicious cycle question “what do I do with my life”?!?!?!  It can be draining, confusing, painful, overwhelming, and just plain sucks.  My sister in life, love, and lucha, Jessica, shared with me advice she once received–enjoy the confusion.  It is easier said than done, but at the same time truly wise and transformative.

My grandmotherly pastoral instinct and social worky gumption yearns to find a way to make it all better when someone shares that life is a whirlwind of cold prickylies.  As I look back on the cliches and hugs that I have shared with those in crisis and that I myself have received…I realize that life can be and will be challenging.  Its tough, messy, and screwed up at times; but in the midst of the chaos there is beauty, we find resilience to live and thrive through the chaos.  We defy the odds and adversity by overcoming the daunting task of getting out of bed everyday.  It is in the dark nights of our souls that we encounter a stillness that challenges us to ponder new perspectives, we encounter a quietness that nudges us to embrace and re-embrace the light-filled-oomph inside, we encounter an end to a chapter that reveals a new path possibility to ponder and perhaps venture.

However, I know that when you are in the middle of it all, thoughtful blog posts and facebook memes and well-intended quips don’t speak to our hurt or fully help us feel whole again.  When I have been at my most conflicted and fractured, I have learned and relearned and re-re-learned and learned again that its okay to ask for help, it’s okay to feel all the feelings, its okay to express them rantfully and cathartically as we journey into wholeness (even when taking the tiniest of micro steps).  I have come to realize that we are able to “enjoy the confusion” when are in community.  We may be hit hard, but I hope and pray that we have people around us.  I have my beloved, my family, my quirky rainbow warrior staff, a communion of ancestors on whose witnesses I live on,  friends who not only tolerate me but fully celebrate me in my wholeness and in my brokenness and back into wholeness.

May we have these people in our lives, may we be those people in the lives of others…enjoying the confusion and the resilience it sparks.  ¡Amen, que asi sea! 

featured image from:  http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/279318.shtml

evolution or de-evolution

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evolution or de-evolution

Many people often criticize geneticists for playing G-d due to gene experimentation like cloning. However, aren’t media artists also playing G-d and with greater potential for dehumanization?

The images of models in ads are touched up, painted, pixilated, altered, airbrushed, etc. They are created into people who do not exist but whose images will impact millions to aspire towards a standard of beauty that is ultimately unreachable because it is unrealistic. Why do we do this to ourselves and to each other? What stops us from embracing our own inner and outer beauty? Rather than botoxing and image-editing who we are, why can’t we embrace the laugh-lines and wrinkles that reveal the lives we’ve lived? Why are we so scared of our own faces? Rather than trying to reach unrealistic standards of beauty, why not reach out and embrace the real and really beautiful person in the mirror?

For more spiritual reflections and questions to ponder,

visit Sunshine Faith

Saludos World!!! I have a blog!!!

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¡Mi lucha, Mi pulpito, Mi blog!

Since I was 14, I have felt and wrestled with the call to ministry, specifically ordained ministry.  This journey took me down an interesting journey of visiting various religious communities including the Franciscans, the Legionaries of Christ, Lumen Dei…it was my version of dating and was a discernment to find my place in the Catholic world.  I ultimately did enter the seminary with the Jesuits in the Dominican Republic but left after a year I realized that it was not the place where I could serve G-d with all of me.

Though I still honor my Roman Catholic roots and feel the call to ordained ministry, as an out queer person the church I love will not embrace me, especially as a clergy person.  And so, I finished my studies in social work and eventually would apply to divinity school (on a whim) to see if G-d and I could sort out the yearning to serve the church and the world.  I was accepted to both Harvard and Yale, ultimately choosing to enroll at Yale Divinity School in order to sort out of place within or beyond Christianity.  Though my intention was to pursue ordination in another tradition, initially the Episcopal Church, I came to re-embrace and reaffirm my Catholic identity.  It was in a Protestant institution with Congregational roots that I became proud to be Catholic discovering aspects and parts of my faith I did not know existed—inclusive history, transformative theology, all embracing liturgy, expansive tradition that had been neglected, hidden, forgotten.  Though I finished my Master in Divinity open to the possibility of a finding a vocational home in another tradition, I left Yale with a passion and chispa (spark) for Catholicism—a Catholicism that lifted up human experience and the entire human person as a places for divine revelation and of theologizing beyond the norm.

G-d has graced me with many funky opportunities to do incredible things—service trips to New Orleans, advocacy with Soulforce and GetEQUAL, mission trips to El Salvador, speaking at conferences on the intersections of sexuality and faith, writing for different organizations and blogs—through it all getting to know amazing individuals who are all living out the call to be a microphone for G-d in unique, radical, and faith-filled ways.   One of the things I discovered along the way was a passion for homiletics—a way of reclaiming and re-membering my voice.  Who would have thought this heretical, Catholic, Latin@, trans, queer person would fall in love with preaching, especially after being raised in a tradition where only male priests were allowed to give homilies???  G-d does have a quirky sense of humor when it comes to ministry and here I am starting a blog.

Because I cannot seek ordination at this time and because institutional church settings are painful for me—I was inspired to start this blog as a way of redefining the pulpit.  This blog will be my pulpit, a place to share homilies, sermonettes, reflections, rants and raves.   The queerful predicas (homiliy/sermon) I post will be based on random biblical passages, videos and images, current events, lectionary texts…some short and some long-winded…some only text, some mixed with other media, some within liturgies.  Things will vary as I experiment with different homiletic styles.  Where this adventure will take us, who knows??!!   I trust the Spirit and how She will use this blogging pulpit.

Inspired by Call To Action’s commemoration campaign honoring the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II and the transformation the church experienced, I too am opening the doors and windows to allow the Spirit to move in and through me through this blog—to share my journey, my reflections, my lucha (struggle), my chutzpah…inviting others to share their journeys, reflections, luchas, and chutzpah….so that together we live into and become church.