Before Us, Eden

One day when I can no longer go on

this is what I want to say

to new friends:

 

“I am back from the fields

I’ve spent there the best of my years

Where I’ve been

What I’ve seen and heard

And the lives that toiled

Next to mine

I have no doubt

That something great is emerging

There Right now,

Donde las lagrimas de nuestra abuelas

Rociaron el jardin

Como oleo de oraciones

Que aun no tienen respuesta

Donde los pellejitos de mi abuelo

Abonaron la tierra

Alimentando las semillas sembradas por

Amables desonocidos sin nombre.

 

If your heart is beating as strong as mine

It is possible

That you are considering

Joining the teams on the field

Eden is before us

As close as the aire

that speaks truth

at times nodding our heads in doubt

dudando

Que el jardin en que sonamos

Sea tan solo un espejismo

A modo de escapismo

Una vil trampa para no

Molestarnos con lo imposible

De la carga

Amarga

Que es disenar mundos

Que salven vidas

repletos de sol y frutos.

 

Y no te voy a mentir

Pintando paisajes edenicos

I am not going to spare you the details

I thought I would not make it back alive

But I’m back,

And the fields

thank God

behind me

but Eden is still before me…

The work

was vigorous strenuous

At times vile and hard

I went there to dig out hope

And in turn I had to dig deeper

Pulling out these scars

Porque de esperanza nunca hay suficiente

Por eso jamas se acaba

Fui a hacer algo bueno

Y Nuevo

I had a vision of dreams

creations we never knew

we’ve Never seen

I went to the field to join in teams

and I must confess at times

you will not know what this work means

there were moments

when confused, tired and abused

I could not grasp the vision

what is this,

that we are building?

 

I am not sure if I was there to succeed

But in the succession

I give you my tools

Because even in the haze

It’s my confession

Even when we feel as fools

it’s been worth it

Go on

continue without me…

Here are the blue prints

Plans and strategies

Tried and true

The wheel has been invented

No analysis is due

Solo usala y echala a rodar

Eden esta en frente

A la vuelta dela esquina

Llena de promesas sin cosechar

y en el espejo de sus claras aguas

Vemos la vida que fluye majestuosa

Bendecida y sin precio

Y si la matas llamandola Utopia

As true as it maybe

Eden is before

fine as fine a vision can be.

 

Before us Eden

And behind us we leave

The fields of

Loneliness

Hopelessness

Lovelessness

And the mean

Ways we deal

with each other

it’s a mess

The trouble we stir up

In vain furthering our pain.

 

I’m not gonna sugar coat it

I want to keep it real,

Vengo de regreso de los campos

no ha sido facil

la verdad

Es real la inversion

Sea lo que sea

Lo que con Dios estemos armando

Creando, con Dios inventando

Priceless it is,

it aint cheap

It has cost us an arm and a leg

y un ojo de la cara

cuando te lo pidan

te quitaras la capa

de las espaldas

you will for sure

do the turning of the cheek

many

times

over…

 

Because

What’s at stake

Eden before us

Behind we leave scars

From the battle

Of devising

And building

Resting on God

And dreaming

We’ve paved the way

Up to here

And where I stand

Before you today

As far as we’ve come

As much as we’ve done

Before us Eden

God is with you

As you press on…!

 

Spoken Word Poetry:  Before us Eden

AETH at Princeton Theological School

Oct. 12, 2016

“This for me was truly an honor and a moment of affirmation, as I was invited to present this spoken word as the prelude to Rev. Dr. Justo Gonzalez’ sermon that night.” -Tere

Danced on the Cross

This one screen shot inspired the title of the poem.
The video is a must see.



He danced on the cross
To the rhythm of the morbid
A macabre scene of celebration
We praise and rejoice to the gore
Of blood poured out for others
Human sacrifice
Just and right
Because He is God,
He can take it.

High, on top Incan pinnacles
Of the faithful to death
We called savages
Inhumane
Barbarians defined
By the practice of their hope
An after life.
They understood what it took.
What was necessary?
To appease god, God,
A sacrifice of blood
Over the table.
Pure and clean
As a baby’s heart.
An innocent deity’s heart.

She danced on the cross
Twirling, or was it twitching
Convulsing in the pain of loss
The shouts of hosanna ceasing
But even those who believed him
Quieted down,
Who would celebrate death?
Who in their right mind?
Jerking in excitement
Shaken earth underneath their feet.
Who would smile?
Cries of vic-
                      -to-
                             -ry?
There was no time
There was no place,
Not then, and why now?

I danced on the cross
His body was not there
Just the promise of return in glory
I danced on the cross
For my benefit, not His
I dared to dance on the cross
And feasted,
Patting myself on the back
for my luck.
Lucky Me!
And I dared to dance and define His death
And his dying
I danced and I pranced
And I dared to call myself apostle.
And I danced and I rejoiced
For the brethren who along with me felt as lucky as can be
And I danced I proclaimed to be
“Anointed to preach the good news to the poor”
Though my good news are just words
printed on cheap newsprint paper
Though my good news are accompanied
by raised hands that are empty
while my pocket and my car
and my 3 bedroom kingdom
keeps me enslaved 9 to 5.
Yet I dance!

I danced on the cross
That not only belongs to me
Belongs to me
Not at all
So dared I dance and raise barb wires
So that you don’t dare to dance
In the space I have decreed just for me.
Because I am holy.
Because I am a chosen saint.
Because I dare not to show wide open
What sin I hide from my own face.

I danced on the cross with joy
There where He laid for the world.

The "Lean In" Controversy

Because it is Spring Break for Seminarians at Drew, I have had the luxury of indulging in one of my vices;  watching TV.  This is a good week to watch TV: the Papal Conclave and Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg’s book launch “Lean In.”

While I am having a lot of fun posting statements on Facebook about the conclave.  I am persuaded to briefly comment on the attention CEO Sandberg is getting on her book.  While the attention her book is getting is in part because she is one of the few 4.2% of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies; the critics are not holding back.  Some of the flack she is getting it is because the approach she is suggesting seems to be received as elitist, as is coming from a place of power.  (I have not read the book yet) But, I too, am tempted to point out to all the reasons SHE in particular was able to rise to the top of the FB empire.

However, in listening to the side conversations that have risen as a result of her book, I want to thank CEO Sheryl Sandberg for writing her book.  To this day, I have yet to hear in mass media serious consideration and thoughtful conversations about women in the work place and in positions of boardroom leadership.  Yesterday, it was refreshing to hear a reporter say, “Please, let’s go beyond the question, Can women have it all?”  The female reporter challenged her panel that this viewpoint has been cyclical and unproductive. Yes! Agreed!

In working at Girl Scouts in leadership development programs for girls, I know some of what she is saying has some standing. So let’s not dismiss all of her “manifesto”.  Moreover, let’s keep the conversation going.  This is especially important while we witness a cloud of old men dressed in red garments make decisions on an institution that has 721,935 members in their women’s orders.  

In the mean time, let’s keep the conversation going and progressing, we owe it to our girls!

Links:

Today Show
NPR
LeanIn.org

The Hijab and the Cross

This post is an interpretive work of a cross-cultural experience, it is not meant to make educational or religious statements to be considered right or wrong.  Rather meaningful interactions are to raise questions about ourselves, challenge us, and change us for the better.  The manipulated images are not intended to belittle or offend anyone of either Muslim or Christian religion, rather it is an interpretive work in it self of the questions the poem raises.  It is my intention however, to help promote a more positive image of Islam and Muslim women in general in the Unites States of America and challenge our traditional views on evangelism and the sometimes oppressive ways we treat each other.  There is so much more we need to learn. 

With love, Tere.

Art by Kenneth Post, 2013
She is beautiful…
All I could see was her eyes
Her smile
The structure of her cheeks
The dance of fabric
Moving to her rhythm
She is alive!
Pins glitter
Jewels dangle
A flower planted
In a prairie of patterns
That match her sandals
And the polish on her nails.
She is more than fashion
She is more, not just flesh.
I looked from the most western part of my own existence
I vowed to voice injustice in her name
A prayer for her freedom
I prayed for us to be the same
Equal and powerful
Hair free to be blown in the air…
Choice and free will.
She is free when she covers
She is free when she bows
She is she when she worships
The God that showed her how,
To live,
To be in existence
in peace.
Her truth
Her way
Searching and fighting
To be better free
in her own faith,
in her own terms…
I wore her hijab
Not by choice
Not with honor
Rather annoyed
I wore her hijab
And it meant nothing
I was hot and itchy
I could not wait to get it off
Of me…
I was still a western woman under those garments,
I could never know what it means to her,
To be her
underneath.
I carry a cross
And live it up to be
The burden that keeps me grounded
Focused in worship
And free.
My cross, her hijab
Her and me
If I imposed my cross on her
Would she feel just as uncomfortable?
As in her hijab I did?
She chose her cross in her hijab
I chose my hijab in my cross
May God show us both mercy
May God show us both
No condition
Just love.
May God help us find God
In each other…
© Teresita Matos, 2/26/13