Friday, September 14, 2018

Riding In the Clouds—And Not as a Joy Rider

This father-God to whom we pray “our father” rides the clouds not as a joy rider, but rather to be in a position to see and to know and to care and to intervene and to feed and to heal and to forgive and to reconcile and to liberate.
-       Walter Brueggemann, A Gospel of Hope (2018)

Braulio is just one of many children who have benefited from medical attention
provided by Mission Mexico.
Forty years ago, Walter Brueggemann´s ideas expressed in his book The Prophetic Imagination “messed up” my spirituality and my way of understanding the Bible—something for which I am eternally grateful. Today, Brueggemann’s words at the top of this page, from a more recent book, don’t “mess me up,” but they definitely challenge me to reflect deeply on what it means to be a part of Mission Mexico and to be a disciple of our loving God here among the impoverished indigenous peoples of the mountains of Mexico.
Juana fell unconscious two years ago, and her left foot landed in the hot coals of her fire pit for quite
a while. Mission Mexico provided transportation on several occasions to and from the hospital.
This photo, taken five days ago, shows that she has no toes on her left foot, but at least she can walk.
And when I join Brueggemann’s thought to the following words written by St. Teresa of Avila more than four hundred years ago, the challenge becomes even more daunting:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Hipólito was praying when I arrived at his house the other day with roofing materials. I listened to him
for a good while, and the most common word I heard him use was "Tatsabú"—"Thank you" in his language.

Here in the mountains of Mexico, Mission Mexico tries to fulfill St. Teresa’s hope that Christ’s followers will “[look] compassion on this world,” will “[bless] all the world,” will “[walk] to do good.” Everyday Mission Mexico tries to live out the nine verbs that Brueggemann attributes to our “father-God”: to see, to know, to care, to intervene, to feed, to heal, to forgive, to reconcile, to liberate. If I could be allowed to add one more verb, it would surely be this: to nourish hope.
It is always a joy to visit with Simona. I had to wait for her because she had gone out
to gather firewood. She then used some of that firewood to prepare lunch. 
This is done by assisting our Mexican partners (such as the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, or the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain), and it is done by one-on-one relationships with the poor every day of the week. Every small gesture of solidarity is so appreciated by these impoverished people who so often feel marginalized, excluded, forgotten.
The Champagnat High School of the Mountain has 229 indigenous students this year. The inset photo
is Wicho, the director of the school. The bearded friend is Cepillo. Both of these men are Marist brothers.
All of this is made possible due to the generosity of the people in the Diocese of Calgary. It was Father Fred Monk’s idea almost twenty years ago that a loonie or a toonie a week shared with the poor of the mountains wouldn’t be too much of a burden for most Canadian families—but it could impact in a major way the lives of persons, families, and communities here. That idea has proven itself to be true thousands of times since the turn of this century.
Abel Barrera (seen here with me and his wife, Charo) is the director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights
Center of the Mountain; he is probably the most respected man among the indigenous peoples here,
due to his total commitment to justice for these peoples. 
I thank the people of the Diocese of Calgary for this generosity. I am the fortunate person who gets to go out to the villages (the estimate is that there about 700 villages) here in this region of Mexico. The roads are almost always terrible, but that makes the experience even more interesting. Sometimes the trip involves food; sometimes medicines; sometimes school supplies; sometimes building materials (for example, on Thursday I transported materials to be used to repair Hipólito’s tar-paper roof); sometimes to pick up or drop off a sick person; sometimes it’s just a visit to see how things are going. I promise that I never go as just a “joy rider” (to use Brueggemann’s expression)—but I also promise that I always return home with a heart full of joy.
This 4 x 4 truck, purchased by Mission Mexico almost five years ago, allows me to go (on occasion)
where very few vehicles go (some would say "where no sane person would try to go" hee hee)—
but it is the case that the more isolated people are, the more impoverished they tend to be.
I hope to visit Calgary in mid-November, and I hope that I might be able to share stories with some of you about the impact that Mission Mexico is having here in the mountains. And I know that in mid-December there will be a special collection in the Diocese of Calgary for Mission Mexico. I hope that many people will make an effort to help the very needy here. As St. Teresa of Avila puts it: Christ has no body now here on earth but yours. God bless.
I fell last month and twisted my ankle badly, and I sought attention from several native healers
(including Doña Rogelia), but finally I went to Doctor Vladimir; he put me in a cast and on crutches
 for two weeks. But I am now just as good as new.

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