In the 2014 UUA meditation manual, Marta I. Valentín reflects on the spiritual dimensions of her intersecting identities as a Latina, lesbian, feminist, God-worshipping Unitarian Universalist minister. With candor and insight, she probes what is universal in her own very particular history and what it means to strive for beloved community in the face of marginalization and cultural misunderstanding.
If Mother Earth walked among us she would
have the young, yet ancient face of Doña Leo,
her long gray-white braids gentle on each breast,
like roots pointing toward the ground.
She would rise quietly so as not to wake the sun
bless herself facing the four directions
offer her soul in gratitude to the One who is
and go about feeding the children of everywhere.
With the grace and flexibility of a flower bowing
in the wind, she would gather corn for tortillas,
the Holy Eucharist of the indigenous people.
Beyond the body of Christ it is
the body of the Mexican people,
the body that struggles every hour
to be fed, to be nurtured, to be nourished,
to be fortified, enriched, empowered…
We come and she will feed us, humbly, hiding herself
in her kitchen sanctuary
where something both simple and grand is made
Eventually she will re-appear
like La Virgencita
with love and the beginning of time
reflected in her eyes.
This time she will offer her healing touch.
Hands that pick coffee and corn
rub limbs, backs, and foreheads gently
with homemade salves passed down
through generations of curanderas,
every sinew and muscle blessed
by Doña Leo and all her elders before her.
Her language is in her hands,
preferring to act rather than speak.
Her love is in her hands,
preferring to give rather than take away.
Her God is in her hands,
preferring to heal rather than harm the earth,
her brothers and sisters,
but most importantly, the next generation.
La Virgencita: The Virgin Mary Curandera: healer
Rev. Marta Valentin invites us to witness Mardi Gras beads thrown as gifts for the chosen in New Orleans, to see the sacredness of yellow taxi cabs in dark nights, to bless the transitions of adolescence into adulthood, of life into death. These are words, prayers and meditations for Unitarian Universalism now—alive with bold images and offering an openhearted spirituality that acknowledges pain and hope, roots and possibility.
—Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Community Minister, Boston
A Long Time Blooming is a rich blend of blends: multiple identities; English spiced with Spanish; reflection, poetry, prayer, litany; layers of metaphor doubling as straight talk. In this slim volume, a "Latina lesbian Unitarian Universalist minister" lifts up the paradoxes, ambiguities, and complexities of her insight and experience: making "my religion with the light and the dark" in order to be whole. She captures at once the limits placed on her freedom in these "un-United States" and her commitment to "account for every act of free will" she exercises. She remains deeply rooted in relationships, family, culture, history, and God while taking us to places as diverse as Venezuela, New York City, New Orleans, and Cuba. In describing the particularities of her own complex experience, she succeeds in helping us notice that as different as we sometimes are, "there is much about our lives as human beings that serves to connect us."
—Meck Groot, Justice Ministries Coordinator, Clara Barton and Massachusetts Bay Districts