Hola! We have now been in El Salvador for a couple of days, and so busy that we haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and write about the experience. So here is an early Sunday morning reflection.
The past few days we have been learning about the history of El Salvador and particularly the civil war that ravaged the country in the 1980’s. Much of the conflict was rooted in the savage economic inequalities of El Salvador and was expressed in brutal forms of repression and terrorism by right and left, though to be truthful, most of the atrocities of the war were committed by right wing death squads and the military in support of the government. One of the complexities for us is that the United States was an integral financial and military supporter of the Salvadoran government at the time.
A bit of nostalgia
I have been experiencing a kind of odd nostalgia as I visit El Salvador because I was here in January of 1988 when the war was raging throughout the country. Many of you have heard me preach about this experience, and the spiritual and theological crisis it created for me as a young seminarian from the suburbs of Dallas. In that first trip, I met mothers and fathers grieving the death of their children; families searching for one of their own who had “disappeared”; and campesinos (the poor) struggling to survive amidst the devastation of the war. I struggled with making sense of what was happening and finding God in the midst of such sorrow and brutality. I was losing hope in the midst if such suffering and injustice.
A new perspective
I won’t go into my story again of seeing Christ in a man who was striving to identify and document human rights abuses amidst the war, but he embodied for me that true hope comes from God as we engage in La Lucha (the struggle). I remember that man as
I come to El Salvador again over twenty-five years later and see the changes that have been wrought by him and others because they engaged in the struggle for justice and peace.
There are now monuments to those who “disappeared” and were anonymou
sly massacred twenty years ago. Oscar Romero (I will tell his story another time) has become a national hero and symbol of justice. The president of the country is a member of the FMLN, the political wing of the revolution. As odd as it sounds, these things seem
ed impossible twenty years ago. Yet as I look around and see the peace wrought from war, I am filled with hope that with God all things are possible!
La Lucha continues for the Pastoral Team and people we meet in Berlin, El Salvador. Savage inequalities and injustice is still a way of life. The poor in the countryside lack basic access to food and healthcare. Their suffering is real and overwhelming. Yet I know that Christ is present in their struggle and hope resides in our solidarity with them.