la iglesia

...writing in Costa Rica, a poem...

The plaza surrounds the cathedral

With concrete pavers

Boys on skateboards sliding across space and time

Brown-skinned mamas, babies in slings

Trucks and vegetable vendors, holding out dirty nails and strands of garlic

Laughing exchanges between old men

These towns are built from the inside out

Beginning with la iglesia.

Someone told us all pueblos have these three:

Iglesia, Futbol, Cantina

Not sure of the order.

I haven’t yet stepped inside one of these monuments, but I imagine:

Exquisite attention to detail,

Arches and stained glass,

Artfully constructed altars,

Firm pews with straight backs.

Quiet.

Dim light.

Gorgeous fortress.

Humanity is a throng in the plaza on a Sunday afternoon.

What if we open those ancient walls and bring her inside?

Stack the stones out in the sun

Encircle park and babies, chile peppers and people

Until the heavens become an ocean overhead, and the floor a soccer field...

And we are within, and the whole thing in the light,

The only altar a flame,

The gospel of Christ.

And everywhere chairs and basins and towels.

What if we lean against the urge to merely deconstruct

And instead remember -

How to build a family?

How to center a life,

around something you cannot buy

or build

or earn

or find within yourself?

What if we discover there is ample room for skating and singing and spontaneity

Because the church is a living thing with lungs

And not a well-decorated tradition?

What if the church is a throng  in the plaza on a Sunday afternoon,

Moving like a flash mob

Around the center of our hallelujah?