This week’s post is from Rev. Elivette “Elly” Mendez Angulo (whose pronouns are she, her, hers, ella) serves as Project Coordinator of Encuentros de Gracia y Bienvenida, an initiative of the United Church of Christ that seeks to engage the faithful in prayerful dialogue regarding the intersection of sexual orientation and Latinx identity. Rev. Elly also serves as Co-Pastor-Teacher of Manantial de Gracia “Spring of Grace” UCC in West Hartford, CT.
My heart is so heavy with all of the different things that are affecting my community that I can no longer sleep as comfortably as I used to. I toss and turn most nights for what feels like too many hours, and if my social media timeline is any indication, I am not alone. Friends, family members, congregants and even acquaintances that I have met as I lead workshops and conversations about social justice related themes can be found alert and awake at all hours across the US. If my Facebook timeline could be trusted enough to serve as a compiled list of demographics, it might suggest that POC (people of color) and immigrants are being affected by sleepless nights at a higher rate than the general population (ie. White).
The Migration Policy Institute, says that of the 43 million immigrants in the US, 11 million are undocumented (1.9 million were eligible for DACA in 2016). It is approximated that the deaths at Pulse Nightclub included 93% Latinx people, of which 97% were Puerto Rican born. According to NPR, as of October 5th, 2017 only 10% of Puerto Rico had electricity following Hurricane Maria (September 20th). And some are saying that the number of Puerto Ricans still suffering without electricity as of January 2018 are 55% and 30% are still without water. These numbers do not take into account smaller islands off the coast of Puerto Rico like Viequez which are not counted at all. These numbers suggest that many Latinx people and their wider communities are unsure of what happens next.
Our nightmares are filled with:
- State of the Environment
- Need to increase the minimum wage
- Reproductive Health
- Economically feasible access to Health Care
- The Wall
- Racism (overt and systemic).
And, each of these serves to compromise our mental health.
Many of us are still barely holding our emotions and pains at bay as we continue doing the work of building movements, including getting loved ones to safety. We who are a connected people, social justice advocators, organizers and creators… some of us have not had an opportunity to grieve or give creative voice to our own pain. Others of us are struggling with the placement of our individual sense of injustice as we continue to do the work… these unhealthy practices are not beneficial to a solid night sleep filled with wonderful dreams.
I wonder how many of us are tied up in the work of doing, our minds and hearts attempting to exist in a reality that binds us up? Rev. Rhina Ramos in a reflection titled, “Jesus’ Authority,” reminds me that in fact, “Jesus exists to set us free.” That the reality of what it means to be Christian in a day like today is bigger than piety, spread wider than our arms imagine capable. That Jesus, in life and truth, allows us space to DREAM. And that those dreams can be made real. I dream.