A Reflection on Place for Why Serve 2012

June 7, 2012
Episcopal Young Adult and Campus Ministries

In order to know where you’re going you gotta know where you’re from, right?

I’ve found Google directions totally unhelpful when I fail to enter in a start location

You gotta know where you’re from before you can know where you’re going, right?

And not like where you’re from, like donde estas, donde quedas, donde vives

Not where you’re from like East Side

But where you’re from from like, de donde eres

Like, this is the land I’m made from

This dust, this dust right here, is the dust God molded into me

This week

I wanna know where your city is

I wanna know where your county is

Your state

Your country

Your mountain, your island, your hills, and cricks, your fjord?

Where is your land?

Tell me

Where does the color of the soil match the blood in your veins?

The skin on your back?

The taste on your lips?

Where is the land that you don’t have to look for

Because you’re always standing on it

The soil you don’t have to conquer

Because it already owns you, occupies you

Because it conquered your heart before you were born?

We live in a culture without lands

A country without place

Where the inside of a Walmart is the same in Dallas as in Denver

And the Doritos crispy taco shell is just as delicious in Portland as in Pensacola

We live in a global civilization of conquerors, franchisers, occupiers, and renters

It’s so easy to forget what it is to belong

To belong to the land

But you know environmental degradation

The destruction of our planet

The death of species (like the cancellation of animaniacs)

These are all the direct results of our placelessness

Did you know that the reason Africa is the only continent where big animals, what they call megafauna, (watch out, here comes my inner nerd) like giraffes and zebras, elephants and rhinos still exist in such numbers,

The reason they didn’t get wiped out by human expansion like the giant sloths of South America and the great eagles of Australia is because they didn’t have to get used to us

We grew up together

They evolved alongside us

Together we both are of the land

That land

That same land

Together we belong

To that land

So when I ask you where you’re from

I’m asking

Where is that land that does not force you to lose your own megafauna to find home?

Where do the giraffes that make you you get to survive and thrive even as you find yourself belonging?

Who is your tribe?

My tribe and land is full of light skinned people who look white

who’s parents forgot how to write Spanish even though they’re only one generation from Mexico

a generation shamed out of teaching their children the language of their heart,

their hearth,

their home

Where is your land?

My land is stretched from Califas to Texas

The Mexican Americans washed across the border by empty fields and hollow mines

and caught among the cliffs before the tide went back out

The copper laden cliffs of Arizona

Who are your people?

My people know Tonantzin by the name Guadalupe

And they’ve written her into an English prayer book

They burn sage and frankincense and sometimes the macaroni and cheese

They read prayers from the prayer book and bury St. Joseph in the front yard while getting spiritual advice from Biggest Loser

Where are you from?

We are here this week in part because we are from a place they didn’t know existed before we were born

We are of a tribe that is being birthed into being

One that holds its faith but refuses to sacrifice its culture

One that is forgiving of history, but knows its weight

One that hopes for the New Community

But cares for the family

And they’ll ask

Where are you from?

And we’ll answer, you know, Seattle

But they’ll ask, no, but where are you from?

(cuz they always do)

And here this week

We hope you’ll tell us

We hope you’ll tell each other

We hope you’ll tell yourselves

So that together we can figure out where we are going

We hope you’ll search for that land, that tribe inside yourself

That God is calling you to call home

And you’ll see that God wants you nowhere but there

We pray that

You’ll see that God wants you nowhere but there

So tell me

Where are YOU from?

Filed under: Why Serve

The Rev. Shannon Kelly
Director of Faith Formation and Officer for Young Adult and Campus Ministries

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