Nov 23, 2009

Foolish things to Confound the wise

I go to dinner last night and talk about how much I miss God and how this is like the longest breakup ever and maybe once you love something with all your heart it takes the rest of your life to let it go. As I walk back to my car, I see a woman kneeling at the alter of a Hispanic storefront church. She’s weeping and praying. I think this is so beautiful. She is squeezing her hands, praying really hard, as if the harder she squeezes, the harder God might listen. The harder he might save her. The harder he might forgive her. The harder he might make things better for her family. A man opens the door and I say "no thank you," three times before I go in and sit down. Plastic chairs, plastic flowers, weird everything, and speakers taller than me. It was like being inside a really loud life size Hispanic Jesus diorama.

A middle aged, pregnant woman walks in after me and asks me what verse we are on. I don’t know because the whole thing is in Spanish. Plus it’s hard to hear her because the music is so loud and people are playing tambourines and maracas. Her bible is in English so she says we can share. She has very big hoop earrings and smells good, like lotion. She hands me her bible and says “I Corrinthians 1:26.” I flip to it instantly and hand it back to her. She traces the words for me with her very long pinky nail. There is another woman in the crowd who keeps shouting “Santos.” It reminds me of a teenage boy I met in the Dominican Republic filming in a Haitian batey on the edge of an abandoned sugar can field. There are emerald mine landslides on the horizon and it’s pouring rain. He calls himself Johnny b. Goode. The village idolizes him. He is from this slum but learned to speak English and 6 other languages. He now works at a resort as a translator and sends money home to his Mother and brothers. He goes into a 10 x 12 cinder block house, where his family lives, and gets an electric guitar. He starts to play “hurt” by Johnny Cash but can’t remember the words so he sings a hymn that repeats the word "Santos...," but I don't know what it means. I tapped the woman on the shoulder who was sitting beside me at this church and ask"what is Santos?” “Saint," she said.

Johnny b Goode's song:


  1. I was listening to Carolyn M. speak and she was lecturing on how these massive cathedrals with their monastic choirs were this group endeavor to transform us to a more enlightened beings. I crave that. to be within those walls with those sound vibrations. but my closeness to God has been found in the wringing of my hands, like the woman you describe. those pictures you posted of the low particle board ceilings and raised hands... it gets me.

  2. lift a piece of wood and you will find me, look beneath a stone and I am there.