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Campus Ministry

The Uphill Battle

By Cheyenne Palmer

Abuelita theology is the water that nourishes the thick roots that run deep into the soil of stability to my hometown, El Paso, TX. Growing up on the border is a whole different world. We are brought up by the lands of our ancestors, the faith of our abuelitas, and with constant feelings of uncertainty when it comes to identity. I do not speak for all people en las Fronteras, but just from my personal experiences. The battle to live unapologetically LatinX, continue authentically through unique expressions, and be seen as a person with dignity has been an uphill battle for many marginalized communities. It becomes (and continues to be) exhausting for all who are involved in the battle and many of us have been feeling depleted over the last year. Signing a UD group up for the El Futuro conference by Dominican University felt a little pointless for me at first, especially at this point where everything over Zoom felt like there was no point. 

My first reflection post-conference went a little something like this: 

Wow, I am just feeling so inspired by what Dr. Cecilia shared with us. The power of creativity and how it connects us to people, our ancestors, and God. I FEEL so connected and full of hope. I feel the weight of our issues as LatinX, a human being, a woman, and as a child of God, but at this moment, the weight feels like it is being lifted ever so slightly (not taken away) and this life and our mission is doable. It’s like when you are rigorously swimming or running on the treadmill and then you allow yourself a break - allowing the water to carry the weight of your body or when you are sprinting down that treadmill and you split your legs to the solid, unmoving edges of the treadmill to take a moment to gasp for sweet air. The treadmill is still running full speed, but you are being lifted by a small moment of rest and breath. Your muscles ache, your joints crack, but your spirit does not. How valuable a spiritual life is when you are running up a never-ending uphill battle.

This conference brought me back to a greater awareness of my identity and expanded on some of the questions that have guided me deeper into my spiritual life. A spiritual life informed and shaped by my culture as a Latina has given me the strength I need to see my way through tough situations. Keynote speakers at this conference agree that nuestra fortaleza viene de Dios (our strength comes from God). We share stories of miracles, disasters, and meaningful moments with God through la familia as a way of sharing our cultural essence of who we are from generation to generation. We find God in our day-to-day tasks and interactions with others. Faith en lo cotidiano expresses the emphasis on our connection to the environment and the grace reflected through the daily routine of life. Our perspectives are informed by our native tongues, therefore, reflecting different experiences amongst people with different native languages. We all share in the diversity of the image of Christ, connected through the Holy Spirit, and reflected in the variety of unique features of all persons who walk this land. And this must be recognized by all. 

El Futuro reminded me of the power in art-filled expressions and how the act of expression in itself is a spiritual opportunity for connection with ancestors who practiced these traditions. Art is much like God - a mystery with many colors and a unique way of existing in the context of the now in this world. We must shift our perspective of others on this earth if we wish to learn more about God’s loving and merciful presence. Be exposed to the artistic ways of different cultures. Experience a life different from your own and walk closely with those with whom you are unable to be with in full solidarity. Do not be afraid to express your soul through the eccentric gifts God has given you. We can make it through this uphill battle if we walk alongside each other and share the weight of this word. Together we can build a better future, but only if we listen to each other, advocate for justice, and trust in our God.

El Futuro was a virtual gathering sponsored by Dominican University in August 2021 that explored "the ways that collegiate campus ministry can be more firmly rooted in the diverse cultures of Latinx college students."

Cheyenne Palmer is a Campus Minister in Marycrest Hall and with LatinX Ministry

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