“If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” -Pope Benedict
Today, I woke up to a cool drizzling dawn with the melodious music of the birds chirping by my window. Somehow they beckoned me to crawl out of my bed and rise up to begin a new day. I realized I am blessed to be alive and healthy, that I am given another day to live life purposefully and peacefully in the best way I know.
On the other hand, I wake up with a pervading sense of sadness for it’s been seven months now since Nicaragua burst out to the streets in open dissent against the conjugal dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. It’s sad that a governing couple elected to serve has clearly betrayed the people’s trust by turning a continuous blind eye and a stone cold heart to the call for reforms in a peaceful manner through dialogue with the opposition alliance and with the bishops of the Catholic Church acting as intermediary in this arduous and complicated challenge of solving the nation’s serious problems. Until now there is no political will on behalf of the Government to seek a negotiated solution to the current situation causing a prolonged and intensified crisis. Instead, they resort to force as a violent weapon with the military and public institutions under their full control and disposal in order to protect their interest thus completely disregarding the more than 70% of those polled who have declared openly that they are fed up with them.¹
As Christmas is fast approaching, the spirit of the festive season is hardly felt despite the fact that the capital in Managua has donned up the city streets with glitzy lights and fancy decors in an attempt to forget the repression and spread the season of love, peace and joy. And yet, deep within the collective soul of the nation, there is division, sadness and mourning for the more than 535 citizens who have died and for the countless victims of injustices imprisoned, tortured and arbitrarily accused of terrorism.
Likewise, the diaspora of Nicaraguans seeking asylum in neighbouring countries especially in Costa Rica has bloated to 40,000 already and continue to grow day by day separating many families far apart. In addition, the number of unemployed and businesses closed and the marked increase in the prices of basic goods can be felt as there is a notable decrease in mobility and people going out for leisure and pleasure due to hardship and poverty.
One can say that there is an ambiance of abnormality in the daily normal routine of life. Ortega and Murillo have so far succeeded in creating a “reign of silence” forcing the population’s hapless resignation through military instigation, threats, harassment and illegal arrests and detentions that clearly violate the country’s laws and the constitutional rights of the accused. ²
The deplorable state of this nation as well as the terrible events repeating daily on the global news cycle such as the reality of the caravans of refugees and migrants on the move, the death defying effects of climate change are not isolated incidents. They are the consequences of our inept international laws and policies, our apathy and racist attitude towards other nationalities simply struggling to survive, our lack of wisdom and insight to read and respond to the burning issues of our times. In effect, we may not directly cause the suffering, but by our collective action and inaction, we are at all bystanders and mere spectators in a world crying out for mercy, justice and solidarity.
I agree with Sr. Susan Rose Francois in her recent article, “Let’s Wake Each Other Up” that Thomas Merton, in his 1966 book, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, wrote about the state of the world of that time would also be a relevant reflection of our present reality…
“We are living in the greatest revolution in history — a huge spontaneous upheaval of the entire human race: not the revolution planned and carried out by any particular party, race, or nation, but a deep elemental boiling over of all the inner contradictions that have ever been in [the human person], a revelation of the chaotic forces inside everybody. … This revolution is a profound spiritual crisis of the whole world, manifested largely in desperation, cynicism, violence, conflict, self-contradiction ambivalence, fear and hope, doubt and belief, creation and destructiveness, progress and regression, obsessive attachments to images, idols, slogans, programs that only dull the general anguish for a moment until it bursts out everywhere in a still more acute and terrifying form.”³
His writing is truly prophetic and continues to be a small voice crying out in the wilderness of our hearts. There is hope as long as we rise up and act together as one. There is so much healing and reconciliation that needs to be done. There is an urgent need to counter desperation, antagonism and apathy with renewed courage and respond to violence and conflict with non-violence and love over and over again. We must reverse the endless cycle of hate and aggression with never-ending love before it’s too late.
Recently, I went with the young people to La Makina Ecological Reserve, a natural sanctuary somewhere along the road to Casares from Diriamba. We were surrounded by tall green trees and giant rocks and boulders that dates back from time immemorial. The sight and sound of nature gave us an overwhelming sense of inner peace and tranquillity. And I felt an experience of oneness with the whole of creation, with the entire human family especially the most vulnerable sectors of society. I felt the silence of creation groaning within me, a call to embrace compassion. And using the words of Thomas Merton, “It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream.”
Finally, the image of the river flowing incessantly with life-giving water continue to refresh my mind and my heart. It reminded me of God’s promise: “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Rev. 21:5-7
And so during these uncertain times, I rise up once again with a new awakening, that hope springs eternal. There is hope in humanity for we are not alone. Christ the King, the Alpha and the Omega walks with us in our here and now towards a new heaven and a new earth.4 All shall be well.
Marjorie J. Guingona, SAC – is a Filipina member of the Guardian Angel Sisters, who is the cuurent Program Coordinator at Proyecto de Formacion Angel de la Guarda in Nicaragua. She is also the author of the book, “Colors of the Soul: Poetry and Paintings in the Spiritual Journey published by Claretian Publications, 2011.
November 25, 2018 – Jinotepe, Nicaragua
Feast of Christ the King
¹ Envío – UCA Universidad de Centroamericana Volume 37 Number 447 October 2018
² Article Blue and white resistance v. The state of exception p. 4
³ Global Sisters Report, “Let’s Wake Each Other Up” Sr. Susan Rose Francois
4 Revelations 21:1-4