I had a lot of time to think this weekend. Bus rides for hours, dreams I remembered and the life I lived…they all melt together, bringing me to a place of distant joy and constant vigil for El Salvador. It was only yesterday that I stood at the gates of Fort Benning in Georgia and wept for my friends in the land of the Savior.
Resurfacing my memories of the rose garden where the Jesuits were dragged on the lawn in 1989…the place I took the #46 bus to in search of clarity…or the sweat dripping heat of the mid-day sun as I stand on the place where the church women were buried in a shallow grave….and then la capilla, the cold marble and the community of nuns who give tours of Romero’s small house amidst the ever present pain of the cancer hospital that he gave his final sermon at. I am humbled by the people of El Salvador…blessed to share my existence with them…forever changed in the mystery of why my journey led me to such a place. And so as I stood at the gates, with the tears flowing with each breath, I remembered these realities…the current violence, poverty and migration…why does my emotion surprise me?
Back in August of 2005 I was a bit innocent and filled with vague concepts of job descriptions. I didn’t quite know what I got myself into answering this call to service. And yet I knew I was already ruined…living some life that I had no role models for…some beaten path of my own drum or something like that. It rained for days for the first month I was there…full on hurricane, earthquake and volcanic eruption…forget about the martyrs, THIS is the reality. And the real depth of my experience came with each day, building relationships and living a daily abundance of gratitude.
I spend my days back then stuck to a computer, buried in human rights files or chatting with high school kids in some dusty town about the American Dream that doesn’t really exist…somewhere past Mexico. There were no expectations of being something I wasn’t…I don’t think. I lived differently…more fully. And I was terrified and in love…all at once. Was this a radical life?
I protest at Fort Benning, holding up my cross with the names of Ignacio Martin-Baro (a Jesuit psychologist), Ida and Jean and Romero….my spirit sings Presente! And yet I don’t know how present I really am…I drift to memories and longing. At the Kairos meeting a question I pondered was, “If I was not afraid, what would I do?” I made a list in my head, now converted to paper…I realized that my life is too calculated. And despite my intentionality in life, I still falter in facing my fears.
If I were radical, I might consider taking up a few of these issues on my list. I might …put my life where my mouth is.
If I was not afraid, I would….
o Take time each day to write my thoughts down
o Speak up more in groups, class and conversations
o Spend money on things I want to do (travel)
o Give away my possessions to the poor
o Wake up early in the morning and pray
o Tell people how much I appreciate them
o Begin full discernment for Maryknoll
o Cry more often (good insight comes)