Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reaffirmations, and a bit of history

We had a delegation here a few days ago. These 5 folks from the U.S. came to Colombia to learn about the situation in the current situation in the country and efforts peaceful resistance, like the Peace Community. They spent 4 days with us in the Peace Community; 4 tiring days, to be sure, but it was actually really wonderful for me because it opened my eyes to some truths about my life here and my role in this work.

My first time in Colombia – and the start of my work with FOR – was on a delegation like this one exactly two years ago. Sitting in a meeting the other night with the delegation and some of the Community leaders, I realized how far I’ve come since the similar meeting I attended while on my delegation. Two years ago I was struggling to understand how the Community worked, what FOR’s role was, etc. Now I am here living it. I have relationships with the community members, I eat meals and joke with them, I know the intimate details of the Community-FOR relationship.

I am also happier here than I think I realized until the the delegates arrived. At the start of the meeting the other night, we went around the circle introducing ourselves, and many of the delegates mentioned how happy they were to be here. I was the last to speak, and with a huge grin on my face, said I was also very happy to be here – and of course the implication was different for me than for the delegates, since they were leaving the next day. One of the community leaders, sitting next to me, turned to me and said softly, “sí, se nota que está contenta, se nota” (yes, it’s obvious you are happy to be here). That was a moment of much joy for me, both because it struck me that I really am contenta here, and also because it seems that Community members are noticing my happiness – both because it really must be true if they can tell just by looking at me, and because I do want them all to know that it is a joy and an honor to be here among such incredible people.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some hope for the living and the dead

Last week I held in my arms the newest member of the Peace Community, just an hour after she was born. She was sleepy, happy, and beautiful, with some very big baby feet. They let me feed her – with a bottle, of course – and after a few moments she got the hang of it and began happily sucking away, continuing when only a bit of milky foam remained in the bottle. I feel quite honored that the family let me share in those first few moments of her life.

Since that day last week, I can’t help thinking with mixed feelings about a comment I heard as I sat with several community members as I sat waiting for news of the baby’s birth. “Here’s a new community member to make up for all those we’ve lost,” someone said, referring, I’m sure, to the more than 180 Peace Community members who have been killed since the Community’s founding. Of course, even a birth, while a wondrous occasion to celebrate, can’t actually make up for the theft of another life, particularly one taken so violently. Nonetheless, it seems that Community members draw a lot of hope from this and other births. In violent situations like this one, hope has to come from someone, and the birth of a beautiful baby girl is a wonderful reason to celebrate with hope. 

This week, the community has another reason to celebrate and hope: it appears that, 3 long years later, the first army official implicated in a brutal massacre committed against the Community in 2005 may finally by punished.