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A Migration Translation of the Tabernacle: Exodus 40

Misael laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles,

he raised up its pillars and spread the tent over the People,

and put the coverings of multi-colored Serape over the People

Benito and Omar filled with Espiritu Santo,

helped Misael build this refuge in the Arizona wilderness

God filled Benito with the spirit of God,

with compassion, perseverance,

and knowledge in every craft, for this work

and so, both Benito and Omar help Misael create refuge in the desert

Misael takes the biblia and puts it in the shoebox,

he brings the shoebox inside to the People

T-shirts hung inside drying from their recent river crossing

They were set up like curtains

screening off the location of the shoebox with the biblia inside

Misael puts a small box crate in the tent,

on the north side of the People, outside the curtain of T-shirts

and set the plantain chips in order on the box crate before the Lord

Misael holds his rosary giving thanks

“Damos Gracias, en el nombre del Padre, Hijo y Espiritu Santo”

Misael sets up a small fire of burnt tree branches outside of the tent

This warms the People throughout the cold desert nights

Misael sets the bucket between the tent and fire,

and puts water in it for washing,

with which Misael and Araceli and her daughters

wash their hands and their feet

When they went in the tent, and when they approached the fire,

they washed

Misael completes a final walk around the People, the tent and fire

Praying, speaking in tongues, and offering up each person in his care

He puts his arms up in prayer and surrender at the end of his walk

So Misael finished the work

Then the cloud covered the tent, and the glory of the Lord fills the People

And the presence of God was in the People and with the People,

by day and by night at each stage of their migration,

there was God


I wrote this piece as a theological interpretation of the tabernacle in the Exodus story and how this tabernacle relates to our U.S. border/immigration realities. I wanted to use Exodus 40 as the embodiment of immigrant people and their stories. I specifically tailored the text to Central American/Latin American immigrants and their migration journey to our southern U.S./Mexico border. This poem in no means is meant to romanticize the harsh realities of migrants' journey, instead it is meant to be used as a tool to see immigrants, see their humanity and affirm the sanctity of their life. Through this piece, the tabernacle becomes a living, breathing body of the marginalized and those who the U.S. criminalizes. The immigrant is made holy in this allegorical piece and God dwells in these bodies just as much as God dwells in our house of worship. This was the main mission of this piece, to make Exodus 40 holy ground for the immigrant’s story and personhood.

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