Saturday, January 26, 2008

Juarez Reflection: I Saw A Storm, But I Did Not Fear It


I saw a storm, but I did not fear it. The rolling fields of thigh high prairie grass gently lapped against my body which was vividly green against the backdrop of the dilapidated barn house. Many cyclones dropped from the dark sky in the distance; they split as many from one – plodding and planning. Each swirling column spun a cloud of dark debris reminiscent of a black smog from the ASARCO smelting plant – thick and noxious. With anger and ferocity, it was as if a caged lion bearing the brunt of a captive life, walked the thin line of his cage searching for holes in the gate; searching for an opportunity to strike; waiting for his turn to pounce.

The warm breeze kept me calm as I made my way toward safety in the cellar, but I never rushed or hurried because I had no trepid feeling of immanent danger though it sought to be the death of me. No wind had come nor any downpour. There was a storm on the horizon, but the calm preceding it did not just warn me of its immanent danger. No, it enraptured me in the peace of preservation. It kept me calm not only in the face of dying but also in the real possibility of it. It was a peace unwarranted of any word or phrase. I made a slow gait to the barn house smiling in the headwinds of death.

And as I awake to the morning chill of Juarez, I seek to know the meaning of this dream – why the brooding vehement animosity of the storm might seek my end. These passing thoughts fade as my day begins and the joys and trials rush upon me. The days pass on and the week moves through whatever mundane attributes it can muster, and all the while my mind fades from this encounter. Then, on a day full of rain, I climb tiredly the hill on which we live, and I shake the coarse dripping mud from my jacket which I had obtained from digging tree trenches at one of the ministries nearby. I stop and peer up. There, at the top, is a red faced elderly Mexican man surrounded by nearly ten horse drawn policemen and a silent frustrated staff member. Profanity and rage spew from the man’s mouth as he curses the police and the staff who struggle to remain calm in the mounting danger of the heated confrontation. The man is a raging storm, a caged beast, hoping to break free his cast iron chains to feast a succulent jugular.

The pattering rain falls steadily and splatters on the muddied steep road as the steaming breath of the chocolate police horses protrudes from their nostrils. Time fades while the darkened rain clouds roll in, and the tapping of my heart finds a peaceful tune which could see  this stilled portrait of death and smile.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Juarez Reflection: Homage to the Night

A black cat stares down at me from her perch on the concrete level above as I work out in the small area we call a court yard. It is late, and behind her a full moon casts its daunting glare on the girl's bedroom window as it peers out from the frosty desert clouds. Juarez is quiet tonight. Even the dogs are paying silent homage.

Juarez Reflection: Like the Sun


Before leaving for Christmas break, I find myself in the dingy inner room of a women’s shelter handing out stockings to the eager little children and their moms. A young girl peers eagerly at me, but I know the mere idea of a gift is foreign to her; she does not know what it means to receive; She cannot understand provision. I show her all the things in her stalking and try my best in pleading with her to understand that they are hers to keep. I desperately want her to know that she gets to have all these gifts not watch as they are taken from her by the other children. I find a small bottle of bubbles and open it for her. She stares inquisitively as I dip the small plastic utensil into the bubbly water and bring it to my lips. As I produce a large and dripping monstrosity which rises but for a moment and then sinks quickly to the ground, I see something incredible. The young girl, having never seen a bubble before, throws her hands out shaking, widens her eyes, gyrates her entire body, and lets out a near deafening screech! And it is not only this first time but every time she sees one. For almost a straight hour, this ecstatically intense noise fills the deadened scene of the shelter. I am convinced that if joy could be bottled, it could never be as real, refreshing, or invigorating. It is as if the young girl is the sunrise, and her excitement is beaming off a single drop of dew as is streams through a spring’s morning cloud like the rays of the sun… There is something profound here I think.