Since March 2021, I’ve been trying to write this blog post. I probably have written thousands of words of draft text. I had the chance to share an Easter reflection at our staff meeting this week, and was given three minutes to speak and two minutes for a ritual. That beautiful constraint birthed this very short reflection that actually captures most of what I have been trying to say, pulled together in thirty minutes. Every year, I’m a bit more grateful for the chance to have walked and lived in Colombia.
March 11 and 12th mark the dates of the forced displacement of the Colombia community of Mampujan in 2000. For me, these dates now also mark two years of pandemic. As I reflect on how my life is now intertwined with both these date, I think about what it looks like to mourn loss and to celebrate community identity, despite and because of our grief, as we all wait together for resurrection.
For the first time in 2012, community members felt safe enough to return to the site of the now ruined community they were forced to flee, to reenact what Holy Week would have been like before displacement. Just like now, it was a moment to commemorate in the midst of liminal space; the here and not yet.
Men play dominos, the click of the tiles and the bursts of winning laughter an echo of the game that was played moments before paramilitary groups descended from the surrounding hills. Sounds of baseball fill the grass covered plaza, where the last time the community had gathered 12 years before was forcibly to be told they would die.
In a break, children pass out flowers to embassy staff and then line up holding grainy photos of relatives they never met in an act of remembrance.
A friend brings me honeycomb from a wild beehive he finds in the woods.
In the roofless church, people pray and remind each other of God’s faithfulness as they tell stories of the hand they saw in the sky covering the moon that night. Community leaders tour politicians through the old school- look they say, we belong here, fulfill your promises, enact the policies that will bring us back.
Young people bathe in the nearby creek. They pull me into the water by the hand and whisper their own fears of being forced to return to rural life if that ever really happens.
We are alive, we exist, we exist echoes everywhere. Despite violence, despite poverty, despite pain, despite fear, despite waiting, despite sickness, here we are, a community, laughing and crying at the same time.
This is a site of terror. This is holy ground.
In the shelter of ruined walls, women cook traditional food, including turtle soup, fried fish and coconut rice. Everything is the perfect combination of sweet and salty. It is the taste the lingers, a promise of home, of something new, yet so familiar, coming to life again as we gather.
I invite you to eat something salty. As you do, reflect on these last two years and on this Holy Week. What are the losses you are marking and the pain that you are grieving, either individually or as a part of this collective community?
I invite you now to eat something sweet. As you do, reflect on these last two years, and on this Holy Week. What are the joys and celebrations that you are marking? Where do you experience resurrection and new life in the midst of mourning, either individually or as part of this collective community?