Maria Matienzo Puerto
I’ve never heard the calling of God. It’s not that I don’t have halfway mystical experiences to relate; in fact I have tons of them. But these have never inspired me to seek out the church and completely surrender myself to prayers and devotions.
It could be that I had a number of explanations/excuses, and was in a crowd of people who discouraged me with, “You’re crazy. Do you know what it is to become a Christian? You don’t have a clue.”
Words like those can be the last straw for many people – though the first for others.
As I see it, joining a church means them questioning me about everything from my sexuality to anything having to do with my race and the customs handed down-despite prohibitions against this- from my black grandparents. To me this is synonymous with prejudice and discrimination.
Sure, I know I might have a media-blemished image of the church, but I’m just not able to reconcile what I see with what they preach. It would be hard for me to keep secret some of the things that identify me.
As for the explanations/excuses, those are from my upbringing: the betrayals and fear of accusations of felt by more than one generation of Cubans who considered it best not to have a Christmas tree, a Santa Claus or a manger. Those who did have these had to keep them well in the back part of their homes, since these were judged to be too “bourgeois” in a socialist society.
And my being revolutionary meant that I was never baptized nor received my first communion. I was even married before a notary.
Rather than the church, people preferred to turn to Yoruba orishas (spirits), which in the long run were thought capable of doing more. I don’t know if they used philosophy or magic, or wisdom or that word I don’t like to repeat – “brujería” (witchcraft).
Virtually all of us have gone to that church from time to time. It’s not that it’s been prohibited; it’s that one of the advantages of its marginality is that to the eyes of censor, sometimes you’re invisible there.
I confess that I don’t feel like a sheep that has gone astray. And although it’s bad that it’s me who’s saying this, I believe that I’ve taken to heart the essence of being a good Christian in the most metaphoric sense: loving my neighbor and being a good person.