A Reflection on Place for Why Serve 2012
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
I wanna know where your city is
I wanna know where your county is
Your mountain, your island, your hills, and cricks, your fjord?
Where is your land?
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 same land
Together we belong
To that land
So when I ask you where you’re from
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,
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