Off the Street and Into the Church

December 11,2009
Talia's Blog
Talia Rivera( )

Talia Rivera is a 33-year-old mother of two. As Executive Director of Villages without Walls, she works with high-risk gang members in Boston. [Read more]

"Talia," I thought, "you don’t belong here." Sitting five pews back from the pulpit I listened attentively to the Pastor. I was with people, many who had, or were studying for, their Ph.D.’s. I was often intimidated. I didn’t speak at church-sponsored classes. I didn’t read scripture aloud for fear of incorrectly pronouncing a word or sounding stupid. I sat quietly. I had never had such instructions and direction for my life. But now I read the Bible constantly and I understood it. I wanted to pray all day long. I was the first one to church, and most times the last to leave. And I learned that I had a lot of work to do. Like the box of cassettes. It was more difficult than giving up sex. I looked through the box, remembering certain songs. Like the Notorious B.I.G.’s, "The Warning." Music gave me words for what I felt. How could I throw away what had been my savior for so long? Danny helped. Free of emotional attachment, he took the box downstairs. It felt like a funeral. I mourned. I thought of all the money I spent on those tapes and CDs. I heard Danny open the door. I stood by the window and peeked out. He walked to the dumpster and tossed in the box. I heard my beloved tapes clanking against the dumpster’s metal. Next, it was the skirt. I didn’t own one but I noticed the women at the church either wore dresses or skirts. I went to the Salvation Army and brought a skirt. I took it home, washed it, and hung it in the closet, determined to wear it to church on Sunday. On Sunday I woke up, went to the closet to get my clothes to iron, and reached past the skirt for a pair old jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. I had to smile.