My Church

I wrote this poem a year and a half ago when we were looking for a physical church to belong to. We were welcomed wholeheartedly by a variety of churches. In each one we were escorted from room to room with smiles and shown to buffets of breakfast treats.

However, regardless of where we went, eventually there were stipulations. "We can't tell the rest of the children that your family is OK," or "We love you but we are not sure that we support your marriage," or " We welcome all, but just not those ideas," or "We love diversity and you will represent that for us."

It took us a while to search out there only to realized that there was no need to search "out there." The idea of a community in faith was truly all around me. Love, peace, kindness, and patience are practiced every day if we take the time to look . They are not owned by any one belief or people.

Our greatest teachers of these practices are in the natural world. Spring is a great reminder of the beauty and diversity of life. The patience and love it takes to see through a harsh winter to blooming perfection is a reminder of the many phases of change- untimely, harsh, and inspiring.

It is also most vivid in the unfiltered perspective of toddlers. The other day my daughter created a burial ground for a dead bird we found. She gave it a name. Placed a green leaf on top of the mound and blew it a kiss. She went outside and picked flowering grass and put it in containers all over the house and created her own spring bouquet for her birthday celebration out of her grandparents flower beds. (They were delighted someone appreciated them as much as they do.)

For her there is no before or after, simply- a now. Every second is a discovery of a world that beckons her to make choices of love over hate. Most of the time, even at times when it involves a favorite piece of chocolate, she chooses the many faces of love- being open, sharing, waiting, more waiting, walking, running, and leaping.

I have learned that sacred places are all around me and most importantly within me. The very act of creating a family is a daily practice in love and patience. There is no need for external validation or to join a club. We are already part of one- we are human. And celebrating that, without allowing others to define or judge it for me, is a daily act of faith.

MY CHURCH
by Catalina Dansberger Duque

I

My church was built from the ground up.
Its heavenly basement stairs,
cracked my mother's back one winter,
but not her faith.

My church was loud.
It was filled with the melody of tearful babies,
the longing of a flamenco family choir,
and the hope of an immigrant nation.

My church was built from the ground up.
It was filled with the glory of those who
only knew how to rise up,
even in the coldest winter days.
The heavens is where they hung their American dreams.

II

My church is sacred.
A congregation rooted in the sanctity of
black, moist, earth where
ancient trees sway in constant praise.

My church is built from the ground up.
It bursts with rows upon rows of diverse thought.
Its bosom is heavy with ideas.
All the he's, she's, she-he's & he-she's
sit side by side in multilingual exaltation
to Allah, Yaweh, Jehova, HaShem, Ganesh, Krishna, Source, Jesus
or no one at all,
in their set Karmic path or
chosen one.

III

My church is built from the ground up.
It is full with yesterday's dinner bits &
today's breakfast crumbs,
remnants of our broken bread.
I wipe this slate clean every week
on bended knee,
twice on snowy winter days,
when hearty concoctions feed the masses.

My church is built from the ground up.
It is sturdy with the brick and mortar of your arms.
We are linked by small curled fingers
pressed together in grace,
"Gracias for my mommas... stinky butts."

My church laughs with me, walks with me,
encourages deep thought, exploration, and acceptance.

My church WELCOMES ME.

My church surrounds me with LOVE,
no matter
whom I love,
where I pray, or
whose fingers I interlace with mine.

My church is built from the ground up.

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