Monday, March 28, 2011

he lives in our hearts

Señorita Reina holds up a black and white drawing of a bespectacled man with a red bishop's hat. "Who knows who this is?"

"MONSENOR ROMEEEEROOO!!!" cries a chorus of children.

"And who is Monseñor Romero?" she asks the crowd at Monday's morning assembly.

One by one the braver kids run up to the microphone, excited to be able to talk (or scream) into it for a moment.

"...hee.. he... um... they killed him because he told the truth!"
"he walked with the poor!"
"he was a man who liked to visit the communities!!"
"...they shot him with a bullet in his heart..."

"And where does Monseñor Romero live now? In our..."


In public schools in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero's story is quite silenced. The schools here do not actually teach about El Salvador's recent history - because it's still too current, still too relevant to the national reality. And that's no coincidence. Those who have been in power have intentionally silenced that story, but in small ways the people keep it alive. Like at Centro Hogar. We are not a public school, so we pretty much do what we want. This entire week in celebration of the 31st anniversary of his assassination on March 24th, each morning a different class section did their own artistic interpretation of his story. In the classrooms all week, the teachers taught about who he was, how he spoke for the poor, and why he died. And how he stills lives. (In our...? Hearts!!)

Materno II, the kids from about 2 and and half to three and a half years, put on a little play. Now, keep in mind, these are LITTLE kids, most of whom can barely speak audibly. But even three-year-olds can understand what it means to share with the poor, to bring clothes and medicine and food to poor people, to tell the truth.

Edrian Ely, one of my favorites (don't tell the others) does not speak. He has a physical disability that has delayed his speech development, but he is an extremely bright, loving, energetic little boy. He was Romero in Materno II's play on Wednesday morning. He carried a giant basket about as big as him around the stage, filled with clothes and toy food and medicine. He went to the communities. And as Señorita Lucy narrated ("Monseñor Romero loved to visit the communities... he loved to share the word of God... and he always listened to what the poor told him...), Ely acted out her words, visiting the groups of kids on the stage, giving them what he carried in his basket, sitting on the floor and flipping through a Bible.

And what was the word of God that Romero preached, according to Materno II?

We should always share what we have, even if we only have a little, and we should always tell the truth, even when we are scared.

It's really that simple. Thanks, babies. Thanks, Romero.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I hate reading blog posts that start with "sorry I've been gone for so long...." So instead, I'll just say that life has been moving faster than I can keep up with, and as this place becomes my home more and more, there are fewer stories I feel I can share with you. It's not that nothing is happening; there is a lot happening. It's just, sometimes the new wears off and it becomes harder to recognize the extraordinary in my ordinary life. But I need to take the time to reflect, process, and share stories. It's good for me. And I know there are stories worth sharing. It is just a matter of paying attention.

This past week, I joined the other members of the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) for our annual retreat. There are volunteers serving in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, and this retreat is the only time of the year when we are all together. We come together to share stories and just be community for one another. I am lucky to be a part of this beautiful community, surrounded by a lot of wisdom and compassion.

The retreat was at the top of a mountain overlooking Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, which is actually the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life. The lake is enormous, and surrounded by ancient volcanoes and little towns and villages. I wish I could share with you the deep peace that comes with being in that place. There is some kind of ancient wisdom there but I just couldn't wrap my head around it. The stars feel really close. And there is something about being in BIG nature - nature that makes you feel small and humble - that is so good for my soul. It reminds that all my problems and worries and really nothing at all.

I want to share stories from my life, but it is hard. Some things are really heavy. There is a lot of suffering in the world. And some of it touches me. The thing that brings me hope in the midst of the harsh reality, though, is beauty. There is so much beauty.

More later. For now, I am reflecting on the VMM Spirit and Lifestyle. Read it. I connect with this mission on a deep level, but I just don't have the words to say any more right now.