Master Peace- Celeste

Nathan Stanton has spent the last 10 years as a pastor, church planter and artist on the West, South and Northsides of Chicago, and is an Interfaith America Racial Equity Media Fellow 

The following short story and poem are a part of a series of vignettes from Stanton that we will be publishing each month and are connected to a larger narrative called Master Peace. The narrative is about characters seeking personal solace in a time of unrest. You can find the first short story and poem 'Darnell' and "Black Bodies Beauty" here.

 

The rumble she felt happened as she prayed on her knees in her room. Often she awoke long before the sun had risen spurned on by Malachi 4:6 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in it’s wings. The Great Physician was more apt to heal as we witnessed the rising of the most perfect circle. She glanced over at the clock and saw it was 3 am. She had been looking to remove a certain disdain and terror slowly welling up in her spirit, where her intuition lives. She’d been reared in the mostly black church denomination that could only see the goodness of God as any benefit to life. The dress up on the weekends reacted to the blue collar dress down during the week. She looked as her sisters were all primped and puffed to go to a building that would become their sanctuary for the next few hours. Even longer on Sunday. Ever since she was a child there was plenty of praise for her pious nature and her willingness to be an usher with her white gloves and show people to the wood and velvet lined pews at the same church she had found Jesus. Yet and still there was a new rumbling in her spirit that didn’t sound like “Oh Happy day” or even “Great is thy Faithfulness”. She had been taught so much yet there was a nagging darkness growing into a crescendo at that moment in her room in an unforeseen void.

That deep sound called to the sound that had been cultivated inside of her soul from long ago. Now on her own in the apartment near the edge of town, she felt the lances of imprisonment and safety all the same. But directives grabbed a hold of here even as her mind dueled with the expectations so many had placed on her shoulders that forced her to become who she could not be for much longer. The depth of the rumbling became like a song to her that lasted only a few seconds. But by and by it became a song that did not end for in her it had found it’s reflection. Leaving the hastily painted place quietly knowing she would need to explain her absence to her quietly dozing roommates upon her return. She walked barefoot through the early morning darkness, with each step she shed the weight of expectation. Her commitment to God had never waned. She imagined Him cheering her on as she broke away from the confines of tradition to follow some unseen powerful force that had beckoned her forward. As that weight got lighter the reality of the way she felt got stronger and she wept uncontrollably tears streaming as she struck our towards the barely imperceptible sound with her ears but obviously deafeningly loud and disruptive to her very spirit. The God of the universe had begun his glance toward her section of the galaxy and His attention was felt with immediacy. The tears washed away the facade of her identity and the incensed look and fear of her father could not even make her look back. The clarity of the night and brightness of the stars urged her on into a future that rested just past the boundaries of this obviously God-forsaken town.

There seemed to be tears and time enough for every injustice that had existed and on she trod with a determination one has when the destination exists in the heart. She’d wanted to go out but was taught by her parents to be suspicious of everything and everyone especially when the sun goes down. Now in this time the darkness, the unknown had become her own. God speaks the loudest in a vacuum

 Striking a match just as Abraham had done for his faith. So imagine the surprise when she approached a disheveled man starting off in the direction of the sound and a little further partygoers exiting a gathering not in the best of spirits but as they had decided to stay too long and the mood became all too somber. Normally Celeste would cross the street in humility to not be to close to the debauchery that was happening but now the beauty and precious nature of their fragility and humanity struck her like a lightning bolt and they stood transfixed upon her shoeless figure and the tears that dropped before each step and were crushed underfoot. She was reclaiming the land that was her identity, freedom and ironically there was no one there to see it. Only strangers she passed in the night. Just as those who had known her would soon become. Yet she was impressed by the thoughts, inspiration and joy that flooded into her mind at that moment as if ushered there by the moonlight.

 

 

I’d escape without myself

 

A most pernicious mystery becomes the self from which one runs

Like the mirror that follows one propped

up in the Radio flyer

In keeping with the deceit that becomes desire

Resting in the confidence that the other path will be all right and

seeking towards the reality as a side effect

keeping in control of spite

for my settlement that required the meat of my own party

Dreams have to die for others to live and I’ve found the

resurrection of one’s identity a harder gift to give

for the comfort that has to be sacrificed for

lately cannot be exited safely as time

wanders on

Yet there is a welcoming into the danger that is unknown that is strong

shaking us to the midst of our core and deciding to explore

The limits of the places i was willing to go

Still here in my skin and convinced I should want to stay

but calling out into the darkness still reverberates loud

like the beating of silence against the conscience

I’d remain in most cozy confines trading vacation stories

of when I was once free for the weekend

became the need to trade what I strive towards

for what I’d known

that long ago in me the Nomad was sown

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

The gathering was one stop on a spiritual convoy to San Francisco, where a court will hear an appeal the group has filed to keep land in Arizona from being transferred to a mining company.
University leaders say they will use the gift to fund new faculty positions and build laboratories. Calvin is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, a small denomination based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Our top 10 religion stories ask: Can college kids get along? Does "Midnight Mass" respect religion? And is there a Torah of Ted Lasso?
The expansion is fueled by concerns over political polarization on college campuses, an infusion of funds from foundations interested in bridge-building, and a merger with IFYC, which has a track record facilitating interfaith engagement.
The home temple, or puja mandir, has been part of Hindu culture for centuries. Even for those who are not very religious, it can be a space for meditation and reflection.
Feeling broken and betrayed by God after her son Beau died, the First Lady said her spirits lifted inside a Baptist church. "I felt for the first time that there was a path for my recovering my faith."
Applications open October 1, and grants are available to educators doing important work that engages religious diversity to combat systemic racism, inside and outside the classroom.
On loan from the Library of Congress, the historic English-language Quran, printed in London in 1764, will be the first object in a display that honors U.S. founding principles.
Ancient rabbis imagined the great chain of tradition, that went from generation to generation, as a ball that is tossed, playfully, from teacher to student. Is there a "Lasso Torah" inside a television show about a fish-out-of-water Midwestern football coach?
Studies show houses of worship have provided solace during the pandemic, but companies across the U.S. are struggling to respond to requests for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.
Catholics leaders have urged vaccination to "protect the most vulnerable," and studies show this outreach is helping improve vaccination rates among Latino Catholics.
Across the country, people from all political divides, faiths and walks of life are coming together to help resettle Afghan refugees arriving at the borders.
The first episode of “Home Sweet Home,” which DuVernay said prioritizes curiosity over conflict, features the Wixx family — a “super queer” Black couple with three children.
Each week, we share our top 10 religion stories from journals, news sites, podcasts and magazines.
Dr. Abel Gomez: "If we’re talking about interfaith work and we want to expand the ability of communities to practice their religious ceremonies, I ask my students: if we think about the experience of Native people under the occupation of the United States, do they actually have religious freedom?"
The Fisk Jubilee Singers, based at the historically Black university founded by the abolitionist American Missionary Association and later tied to the United Church of Christ, started traveling 150 years ago on Oct. 6, 1871.
The last several months have been catastrophic for Haiti. The Aug. 14 earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead, followed by Tropical Depression Grace two days later. The country’s political sector has been in disarray & over 22,000 people have officially died during the pandemic.
Apache Stronghold will take part in a day of prayer Saturday (Oct. 9) at Oak Flat before meeting with leaders of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who will offer a blessing and prayer for their travels.
It’s not just interactions with friends and families that are getting cut. Routine yet beneficial interactions with people at fitness and child care centers and volunteer organizations are also being eliminated.
Ismaili Jamatkhanas are designed to be both places of worship and community engagement, so when the chance to conduct a vaccine drive became a possibility, volunteers mobilized quickly.
Amid personal and professional crises, the author writes that she finds her Christian faith "one of the most fruitful sources of hope, even in the darkest hours."

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.