Last night was a difficult night for me here in El Salvador. We had moved north to one of the rural communities and it was so pleasant. We walked the couple of blocks from our hotel to the town square without fear.
We stopped to watch a boys’ soccer game and admired the beauty of the Roman Catholic church in the square. There were a number of heavily armed security police walking around too, but they seemed friendly.
We had a marvelous dinner of a variety of pupusas and burritos and plaintains. And after dinner we went to the courtyard behind the restaurant where we sat for evening reflection time. It was all so peaceful.
But then, Pastor Guadeloupe Cortez, who was accompanying us said that she wanted to share something about the village where we are headed today, about a 40 minute drive even farther north.
She said that recently two youth from this small community of 200 families were killed near the church she serves. Since most of the members walk to church down the same path where the boys were walking, they are afraid to come to church. They have decided to worship temporarily on the porch of another member closer to where the families live .
Two young women from the community have left for the United States in the past month. One has her two year old daughter with her and the community was glad to hear that she had made it to New York. They haven’t heard anything at all from the other teen, a fifteen year old.
It was so easy to imagine that the violence has not reached this beautiful part of the country surrounded by mountains. But the truth is that the violence is even here. As gang members feel pressure in other areas, they move . These same rural villages experienced some of the worst violence in the civil war in the 1980’s as well.
It doesn’t seem fair. Where is there hope?
And then I awoke this morning to the sound of a familiar song in Spanish:
Vamos todos al banquete, Let us go now to the banquet
a la mesa de la creación; to the feast of the universe
cada cual con su taburete the table’s set and a place is waiting.
tiene un puesto y una misión. come, everyone, with your gifts to share. (Refrain)
Hoy me levanto muy temprano; ya me espera la communidad;
Voy subiendo alegre la cuesta, voy en busca de tu amistad.
I will rise in the early morning; the community’s waiting for me.
With a spring in my step I’m walking with my friends and my family.
God invites all the poor and hungry to the banquet of justice and good
where the harvest will not be hoarded so that no one will lack for food.
May we build such a place among us where all people are equal in love.
God has called us to work together and to share everything we have.
There is hope when we can sing together such a vision of God’s community.