El Día de los Reyes Magos, is the Latinx celebration of Epiphany. Remembering when the magical kings, Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar, traveled by night, following the star, all the way from afar to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, whom they recognized as the Son of God. It is a day of revelation, a moment to pause and remember the gifts we have been given.
Many of you are aware of some of the incredibly difficult incidents in the Sierra Pacific synod (the synod in which I serve) prior to the Christmas holiday. It was incredibly traumatic for many in the Latinx community and the whole church. What occurred was an especially difficult day for me. I experienced what happened on multiple levels and so did my family.
There have been so many times historically in the church when things like this happen and people are not given time to rest and recover from the hurt and the trauma. Instead, they are expected to move on and continue. Communities are asked to be “resilient,” and, sometimes are asked to take a brief pause, but are ultimately asked “to return to normal.”
This is not normal, healthy, or sustainable and perpetuates a “grind culture” that Nap Ministry creator Tricia Hersey illustrates as a culture that is harmful to our bodies, minds and spirits.
We need to keep talking about how we have fallen short, and we need to listen to one another and take active steps to change.
Rest should not have to be earned. It should not come only when trauma arises. It should be the norm.
We need to learn how to recognize when we need to step away before we’ve reached our breaking points. To tell folks when we are hurt, to say it out loud and without shame so that we can support one another. I have watched many BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ leaders be hurt by institutions built on white supremacy. A system that has told us since the day we were born that our worth is reflected in our work. Leaders are encouraged and expected to keep producing work when they are running on fumes. They are hurt and eventually walk away. I have watched as these institutions wonder why they have a deficit of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ leaders. “Why can’t we retain these critical voices?”
Why, if they are so critical, are they harmed and then expected to move on immediately? Without rest, without healing. They are told by society that resting is a weakness. They are told that these systems are too big to change. They are told, “This is what you were called to.”
Something happened when the kings got to Jesus. King Herod gave them an order to return to him with news after finding the baby. But instead of doing that, “they went another way,” (Matthew 2:12).
They realized the route they had been on was the wrong route.
We are called to follow a different route.
I have spent much of my career as a pastor encouraging leaders, especially ones who are on the brink of quitting, to take time for rest, for slowness, for healing and listening to the Spirit. I do this because I value them. I value their voice at the table and I want them around. Not just to help us move on but to help us change and discover and travel along new routes.
Now, after telling many leaders to take their own time for rest and healing, I need to do the same. I need to take an active, radical step toward my own self-care and wellness. Because part of authentic diversity work is being vulnerable with where we’re at, inviting people to understand the process that is needed for healing, and then taking the time for that healing.
I have been advised by medical professionals, friends, and family to take some time. I will be going on medical leave for the next few months to recover from the trauma. During this time, I will be meeting with my spiritual director, counselors, and my close community. I will be doing the work of healing.
El Día de los Reyes Magos was not celebrated in my home growing up. When I became a mother I learned how it was celebrated in Latin America by other mothers and now we have our own tradition. The night before Epiphany, my children strategically place their shoes in front of their doors. They fill them with grass for the kings’ camels to receive. A symbol of rest and replenishment for them. I tuck my kids into bed, give them a blessing and they drift off to sleep. In the morning, they find the grass gone and a small gift in its place.
This year I am grateful for the gift of community. I am surrounded by individuals who love my family. Who sees value in me and reminds me to value myself.
I will be painting, throwing at my pottery wheel, crying, writing, and praying. I hope to return in the Spring, but for now, I will be stepping away, looking for the signs that remind me to pause and replenish myself. And in return, I hope to return the gift to others.
I will keep you in my prayers and ask that you keep me in yours.
And remember: you do not need to earn rest. You, child of God, already deserve it.