Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Immigration and Amaranth March 14 Oaxaca Mexico

Today was a really long day. There was some apprehension because of the visit to the immigration shelter. We knew it would be intense and emotional and it was. We have been experiencing the effects of NAFTA and global economy and today we were confronted with the human cost. The other days we saw resiliency and resistance to the effects of NAFTA on the way of life of Oaxacans. Graciela at the Mezcal distillery was a picture of resiliency and hard work and ingenuity. Romano at the Kruz farm was defiant and articulate and determined in his family's vision to continue the way of life of the small family farm in the face of cooperate greed and technology. We saw in Romano and Graciela the worth of the sacredness of the land and their commitment to their way of life. But they were safe, at least at this moment.
Today we experienced those who had to uproot themselves from the land they loved , leave family and loved ones behind. We saw the faces of those whose stories touched our hearts and made us ashamed of the way the global economy has devastated the human dignity and rights of our brothers and sisters.

We heard stories of children left behind with heart murmurs and brothers who were murdered. We heard of family businesses that were lost because of extortion and gang control. We saw tears of grief and gestures of vulnerability. Men and women who were robbed, stripped, chased and threatened in their search for salvation for their family.
I thought of the writings of the liberation theologians who have told us that God is on the side of the poor not in the pockets of the rich.
But I also saw at the immigrant shelter the painting of the last supper which reminds me that Jesus gave the meal to Peter and Judas even as he knew they would betray and deny him. So that indicated to me that even the rich and oppressors are invited  to the table.
How can we make sure they know they are welcome and they know their humanity is at risk as much as those who are fleeing their homeland? It seems simplistic but maybe if we could feed each other at the same table we would see the world tilt toward equity.
How will I preach Easter in the midst of all that I have experienced?
Maybe it is in the story of the sacred grain of the amaranth. That was hidden from the conquistadors and priests who wanted to break the power of the people of Mexico so tried to separate them from their sacred food and rituals of thanksgiving and life.
Seeing even a 1/4 hectare of amaranth and the pride of the farmers who are reintroducing it to the market and the people of Oaxaca is an incredible resurrection story. Like seeing the Oaxacan jugs and food on the table of the last supper in the immigrant shelter, the table is spread for all even when we try to keep others away or try to diminish their place at the table. The indigenous portrayals of the table of grace and the hand of God feeding all within their context are some of the most powerful images that I can experience.
On the mundane side, we arrived home exhausted and hungry. I went with a group to an upscale restaurant on the roof top just beyond the place where we enjoyed folk dancing on Sunday. Cafe Casa CreSpo
We shared an array of appetizers of plantain, squash blossoms, duck, and chilies. Drank cerveza and mezcal. On our way out of the cafe we tasted chocolate, which Oaxaca is known for, and enjoyed a walk home in a city that is becoming familiar. And I had my first hot shower of the week. Now I know which nob to turn on my bath time is going to be enjoyable rather than merely tolerated. I feel clean for the first time all week.

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