These past few days I've been at a loss for words. The ministry I am involved in at the Centro confronts me more and more with suffering and hardship -- not theoretical and abstract. Suffering that ravages faces I've come to know so well and love. Fear that dulls what were once dancing black eyes. Hardship that seems to have no bottom. I feel so presumptuous standing up to preach to my brothers and sisters. I see how easily the Gospel can be used to keep folks in their place, to provide just enough comfort to dampen the fires of anger that should be raging. I squirm faced with the uncomfortable insight that religion can so easily be the "opium of the masses."
I am Martha enough to have launched into this work convinced that there were things we (I) could do to make life more bearable for Latinos in our community. Today, the only part of my work that feels truly faithful comes each Saturday evening when I get to retell the story of our faith, retell it in our language. The Eucharistic Prayer we use draws from the imagery of the beloved geography of our distant homeland as well as the migrant experience that binds us together.
I try to be more like Elizabeth. The image in our lectionary reading of last week is so seductive: I want to see it as a call to spiritual retreat, to solitude and contemplation--like maybe one day I too could be like that lady who wrote Eat, Pray, Love and go to India to learn from a guru. What I am slamming into is very different. I had never understood until now that accepting Jesus' call for us to be like Elizabeth sometimes means sitting at the feet of Jesus on the cross. Bleeding. Sometimes listening means listening to the silence of agony.
When I was a very little girl, TV programming in Colombia ended at 9:00 PM each night. If I had gotten to stay up late to watch TV (a rare occasion), I got to see the final sign off. El Padre Uribe (fr. Uribe) a very well known priest from Bogota, would come on the air and give a brief homily. Then he would say the following: "My God, into your hands we entrust the day that has passed--and the night that is coming." Words became white noise and the image on TV became snow. Nothingness.
As I sit here, my prayer is this: "My God, into your hands I entrust the light I know still shines, and the darkness that surrounds me."