I have exciting news for you, blog reader: I am going to El Salvador.
Two months ago, I could not identify El Salvador on a map, let alone tell you the capital (it is San Salvador, as I recently learned).
Let me explain the journey that lies ahead. Every two years, the Chaplain’s Office at Davidson College forms an ecumenical team of about 12 students to participate in a “reverse missionary” trip over Spring break. We go to El Salvador as representatives of the body of Christ of North America to encounter the body of Christ of El Salvador, and learn how our brothers and sisters interpret reality. In particular, we learn how they care for the poor and marginalized members of their society. As we learn from them, we offer our friendship and gratitude in return for their hospitality. Then, when we return to the United States, we become “missionaries” to our home communities when we share our experiences and changed perceptions of reality. We share our reflections on justice, and discipleship, and the meaning of being human.
Our journey began this weekend, as we went on a retreat to Lake Norman, away from the work and stress of campus. This weekend’s retreat returned me to stillness within, and I felt bonded to my fellow team members. I felt safe to discuss difficult questions, especially when we watched a film on the life of Archbishop Oscar Ramiro. Archbishop Ramiro was a voice for peace in the Salvadoran conflict of the 1980s, who died from the violence of war. During the film and our ensuing conversation, I realized that my understanding of suffering, justice, and reality is limited. I have much to learn from those around me, and my brothers and sisters in El Salvador.
This blog post is only the beginning of what I hope to describe as an experience of “Communion across Cultures.” Not only will I receive communion in worship services very different than my own, but I will bear witness to a fellowship that connects human beings across cultures. I will learn to practice communion in all aspects of daily life.
Yesterday was my first time receiving communion in several months, and the sacred ritual impacted me profoundly. I hope that no matter what faith tradition you come from, you may understand the act of connecting to a Love greater than ourselves.
Your presence is in all elements of this lifetime.
No words can capture your sweetness –
it ripens in all living things.
My lungs expanding, my eyes blinking, my heart racing
is an act of communion with your heavenly grace.
Why then, God, has the human race
perpetuated crimes of injustice and hate?
How can we see unity as our truest fate?
Lord, your incarnation in the flesh is cosmic intimacy,
Unifying and purifying our searching souls.
You are the blossomed seed beneath suffering.
You have shown me to bear my burdens with prayerful praise
and sing my soul to salvation.
Thank you for protecting my heart’s sacred flame.
May all beings live in Communion
with the sweetness of your Spirit.
Thank you for reading, and keep in touch for updates on the journey to come!