Finding Yourself in The Peon Contreras Theater.


“I know God dances” Liz tells me as we wait for the dancing to start.
We are seated in balcony inside Peon Contreras, waiting for the folk dancers to come out. I hear the reverence in her voice, and I want so badly to feel it myself- that reverence for something beautiful.

I thought back to the last time I was in Peon Contreras, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and in the middle of a particularly shameful episode in my religion, watching as women were shredded to pieces over something as simple as pants. I was devastated then too, and I wondered how the people who called themselves my brothers and sisters in Christ could be so publicly vicious to others who were different than the norm. I’d experienced similar things (on a minor scale) while in the States and dismissed them as isolated events, but I saw that it wasn’t.

My religion has been a major anchor in finding a new normal in my home country, and safe haven of familiarity that I could take comfort in. Outside of the forceful reacquainting, I knew there would be a familiar ritual of worship that I could look forward to every Sunday, and I held on to it. It was home.

So, during the entire debate over whether or not we could make room as a church culture for women who were different raged on, I felt a sudden sense of loss- all those ideals of Christendom seemed like something imagined and I found myself gasping for air in the midst of this new found uncertainty in the symbol of my religion.

On the advice of a friend, I stepped away from my computer and went searching for those things that reminded me why I loved others, and why I loved being alive so dearly. I felt raw and undone and on the verge of tears that would betray me any second, and with that feeling I walked through the centro searching for something in the ocean of people. Somehow I ended in a balcony inside Peon Contreras, watching as the city orchestra played a piece by Beethoven and felt recognition of a safe place.

In the midst of losing myself in the sound my eyes adjusted to find a child down below, no older than 7 years, moving to the rhythm of the music. He wasn’t dancing- he was conducting. And while I looked on I recognized that reverence, that life force that makes us all do things bigger than ourselves. I saw as his arms swung and punctuated and how he lost himself by the few aspects of his face I could make out- the bliss and the comfort, the visible representation of being moved by something bigger and brighter made manifest in the scrawny body of a 7 year old boy. The concert finished and he sat, speaking excitedly to his parents, and as he left he took a bow to the stage and walked away smiling.

In that moment I remembered that while people may be vicious, there were small boys conducting entire orchestras from the seats of auditoriums and they were sacred, and I loved them. I don’t know if he was there this past Sunday, but I recognized that sanctity in Liz- her watery eyes and love filled face beaming towards the twirling girls and the sound of perfectly synchronized dance steps.

I know God dances. I know he conducts. I am a feminist, I am a Mormon, I am formerly undocumented and trying to figure out my place in life and I know that even when people may be vicious or misunderstand there are sacred and beautiful things in and out of people and that alone is reason for me to keep going. 


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