I am back from my travels throughout the country and I have finished my first week of class after spring break. I left on March 15 to the Seminarians of Color conference in Alexandria, VA. I was able to connect with other seminarians of color as well as for me to get a better perspective of who I am and how I fit in my own skin. Many of you know I am Hispanic but I don't look like it by any means. Having an Anglo father and a Mexican Mother, plus adding the fact that I lived in Minnesota I look really white. However, deep down inside I am Mexican, it is my roots, the way I was raised and who I am.
After the conference I left Virgina and went off to Arizona to spend some wonderful time with my family there. I was able to spend time with my nephews and sister but also to spend time with my aunts and grandparents. The time that I spent there was just wonderful, when I walked into my grandmothers house she pointed at the vent in the floor and said, "do you remember what this was for?" My aunts and my cousins turned and said, it was the telephone. When we were kids we would scatter around the house and use the air conditioning vents to play telephone. As I was in her house a flood of memories came to me. Where I sat on Christmas while we opened gifts, the stockings that were on the wall, and my favorite Noel candle holder on the bar in the house. I went back to being 8 years old again. It was wonderful! I also went to visit my mom and while I was there I saw a picture on the wall of my great grand father and I. I must have been 5 or 6. When he would come over to our house I would sit on his lap and put his baseball hat on. I still remember how they smell. This was a picture of me in his hat and him holding me. I still get a little teary when I think of that picture.
While I was back in Arizona it really hit me that it does not matter how white I look on the outside because who I am is both external and internal. I am a Hispanic man and this trip helped me to get solidified in my roots.
I then got to spend some wonderful time in Las Vegas with Matthew. He was so wonderful to me by driving from Minnesota to Las Vegas so I can have a car while I am at seminary. I quickly realized that I am needed to have a car while I am here in seminary and he was so wonderful to bring it to me.
As I write this I am so amazed that my first year of seminary is almost over. I will return to Minnesota for 3 months to do my Clinical Pastoral Education at United Hospital in St. Paul and then I will come back to California for my second year of seminary. It is amazing how fast it is going.
We are now smack dab in the middle of Lent. Each day of Lent I am reminded of what I am being called to be and to serve God's people. There are days where it gets lonely and I get blue but then I think of many people who are supporting me in this process. Without the Grace of God and the support of all of you I do not think that I would have been able to make it through this first year.
Today I read an article about the pastor in Florida who had threatened to burn the Qur'an on September 11 held a mock trial against the Qur'an and the punishment for the Qur'an was to burn it. He soaked the Qur'an in flammable liquid for an hour and then burned it. As I read this I could feel the pity for this man in my heart but also I felt shame that this person was a Christian just as I am a Christan and he is doing these terrible things. How can a person be Christian and speak hate? We live in a very diverse world and even though we might not agree with everyone around us we need to listen to the words of Mother Teresa and to "See Christ in everyone." How??? now that is the question of the ages. This evening at evening prayer I prayed for this pastor and for the people who were involved with this trial. There are times in our lives were we need to pray for people that we do not agree with at all. Jesus asks us to pray for our enemies and this is much harder than we think. As I was praying for this pastor and his congregation I could feel the anger in me grow and grow. However, as I prayed for him out loud I could feel the anger drop and I was filled with pity for this person. I ask for you to also pray for these people as well as to pray that there may be reconciliation from this divisive actions.
Well this has been a much longer post that I thought it was going to be. Please feel free to email me with any prayer requests that you have.
Please continue to pray for Matthew and I as we continue down this journey and know that you are in my prayers.