Friend, this is Day 1 of a series of posts for the month of October. I’m joining Kate Motaung over at Five Minute Friday for the annual Write 31 Days challenge.
My topic is “Finding Hope in Unmet Expectations” because that’s what my book is about as well. On Fridays, I will write you a poem. Each day has a different word prompt. I hope you enjoy.
Today’s word prompt is WORSHIP.
My knobby, ashen knees are bent like a Mexican White Oak tree in its second stage of life, willing but unable. My white, doily-like mantelito is draped over my head to keep God from seeing my sinful thoughts. Every Mexican grandma was afraid that God would witness the atrocities happening in their grandkids’ minds.
I can’t say one more Hail Mary!
I don’t even like church!
Get me out of here!
No, grandma, don’t pinch me. I didn’t mean to snore!
This is what I came to know of worship. It was painful, it was a chore, and it was only done on Sundays. It should be noted that I felt this way by no fault of the El Carmen Catholic Church down Martinez-Losoya Rd. The church was sandwiched between a dirt road and what would later be known as the Mission Heritage Trail, out in the middle of nowhere.
I worshipped by kneeling and hiding my thoughts.
It wasn’t my grandma’s fault either. Bless her heart. She wanted me to grow into a God-fearing woman. And God-fearing women wore pantyhose, head coverings, turtlenecks, and had their hair pulled back so tight it made your eyes look like canoes. When I cried in church, the tears streaked down the back of my cheekbones instead of the middle of my cheeks like normal people.
I couldn’t wait to get out of church, let my hair down, and release my eyes from submission. I was tired of talking to God on my knees.
I stopped kneeling. I stopped talking to God. I did not, however, stop hiding my thoughts. Would God be impressed with my new, mature thoughts, or would He be terribly upset that I gave up my mantelito as soon as I entered middle school?
When my mom and stepfather got a divorce, it tore through the image of what I thought a family should look like.
I cut off all my Coahuiltecan hair so that it could no longer be pulled back to make vessels out of my eyes. I began to worship material possessions, people, being alone. I didn’t have to kneel to know I valued these things far above my Creator.
My knees planted into the Spanish, skin-colored tile floor, I lean over the off-white wall of the bathtub to wad my infant’s thick, dark hair into a donut to rest on the peak of her head. Her tiny eyes glisten as she opens and closes her them, making them flap like the wings of a baby bat pup. She splashes water, energetically, unapologetically, and carefree causing my wrinkled, turquoise blouse to soak through with bathtub water.
I smile and thank God for a million and one gifts of which she is one. This is worship.
What I’ve come to expect of how to communicate with God has radically changed over time.
Sometimes worship is the breath that catches you off guard.
Sometimes worship is remembering where you first knelt.
Sometimes worship is when God makes vessels out of your eyes without ever having to pull back your hair.
God honors it all. Willing but unable. Draped and exposed. Dirty and clean.
Worship is hardly singing but a faithful internal melody that keeps searching for Him. Worship is the tightness in our chests when we want it to be over but it has only just begun. Worship is the honor of both journey and destination as one. Worship is the vehicle of hope when life didn’t turn out the way we thought it would.
As we walk through these 31 days together through short essays and vignettes, I hope you feel called to your own writing or your own act of worship.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:1, NIV.
Cover photo credit: Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash