For the first time in my life, I opened a Dutch dictionary. But I struggled to find equivalents for two of the most important words from my part of the world: fiesta and siesta. These two words have shaped how I approach my entire life. My Dominican parents embedded them in my soul from the time I was born in the States. I can still remember as a little child going to bed because I was too tired to stay up until midnight on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). As I lay there in my room, I could hear my family in the distance, dancing and laughing while Latin music played in the background.
You need to know that I’m writing this article from way down in “the bottom”—the place where everything is an occasion to party. Down here in Miami, the “Magic City,” music from the rapper Pitbull is pounding and horns are always honking. Banquet halls are on every corner, competing with each other like they’re gas stations. We have South Beach, Calle Ocho, La Carreta, and Little Havana in Miami. This city knows how to get together and celebrate.
I long for the day when we can all say the same thing about our personal, congregational, and denominational life: “That person—or church—really knows how to put on her dancing shoes.”
Life is exhausting. Our backs are going to ache and our feet are going to hurt. We have to realize that we are either going to wear ourselves out because we have spent all day focusing on what’s wrong with the world and ourselves, or we are going to need a break because we’ve spent the day dancing with Jesus for what he is making new. Sure, we can have a serious conversation—but let’s have it while sipping on a cup of Cuban coffee and playing a game of dominoes together.
The great news is that after the fiesta comes the siesta. Please keep in mind that you are supposed to take siestas in the middle of the workday, not at night. And taking a siesta doesn’t mean you are lazy. It actually means the opposite. It is an indicator that you have worn yourself out attempting to build something transformative for the glory of God in this world.
Siestas are best utilized by those who take their work seriously but who also understand the secret of contentment. Consider how many naps a newborn infant takes during the day. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus meant when he said we need childlike faith to entire his kingdom. When we find our rest in Jesus, he goes to work on behalf of his people.
The rhythm of the Christian life is simple: after the fiesta comes the siesta, and after the siesta it’s time to fiesta again! Let’s put dancing shoes on our feet and place a pillow under our arm as we prepare to cha-cha our way toward the future God has prepared for us together.