Reflection on Stewart Detention Center and SOA Protest/Vigil
“God calls the unqualified to do the unimaginable.”
The School of the Americas vigil was important for me to be at this year specifically because it grounded my spirit again in the relationship between my faith and the communal struggle for justice. It reminded me to be patient with myself and my community, helped me shift away from product-minded thinking and into process-minded thinking, revitalized my hopes, and reminded me of the context of faith leaders of all kinds stepping into committing their lives for justice. I am not alone, and neither is anyone else. The first time I went, the vigil impacted me the most. The solemn procession of white crosses and reading of names, the crowd repeating “presente” after each, and the image of thousands of crosses woven into the fence of the SOA. They are images that stick. This year though, it was the workshops. A storytelling session led by Christian Peacemakers Team spoke to something in me that knows physical accompaniment work. A workshop led by Imokalee Farmworkers helped me remember to meet people where they are and look at things one step at a time. On Friday, before we swung into gear for SOA there was a protest at the gates of Stewart Detention Center. A walk to the gates followed by presentations by immigration detainees and families of detainees, and a stop on the walk back for tamales at El Refugio, a hospitality house for families of detainees. It was a time of remembering work that I have stepped away from this year to develop mechanisms of self-care and sustainability. Remembering it was important. It was a covered weekend. Not every holy moment feels serene; many feel more like scraped knees full of gravel, dust in your eyes & lungs, and being disturbed in your own world. The humility of feeling no power but prayer, and having that prayer teach you only the next step, one at a time.
I often want to ring bells and call out to everyone I know about all of the injustices in the world and what I want them to do about them, but that is neither effective strategy nor my call in the world. So how to live my life as witness to what I see in the world? Workshops and time spent at the SOA vigil this year helped me stay centered while I continue to ask myself that question.
“To those who hunger give bread, to those who have bread give hunger for justice”