During a recent trip to Anapra, Mexico, a small impoverished colonia on the outskirts of Juarez, to visit Columbans, I had an experience that brought me into greater intimacy with Christ’s Passion.
At just about dusk, I was standing on the dirt road just outside of the Columban house, on a bit of a plateau and could see clearly for miles around, including into El Paso, Texas. The wall that keeps these neighboring countries divided was invisible, creating a borderless image of a single swath of land between two mountains.
E-Journey through Lent
The desert has always been seen in Scripture as a place of purification, of proving. Moses spent 40 days and nights alone face to face with God on a desert mountain. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert. Jesus too spent 40 days in the desert, where he was tempted.
As I stood there, the poverty real and inescapable, a vision of a massive cross lying over the dirt roads and extending in to El Paso came to me. The heavy beams stretching for miles were like Jesus’ arms open wide both inviting and vulnerable.
My heart pulled out of my chest and a feeling of being nailed onto the cross came over me. Strangely, I felt relief in the piercing pain. I realized that the temporary physical suffering which passed through me almost instantly was nothing compared to the permanent state of violence, exclusion and isolation in which the people of Anapra live.
In this season of self-examination, I ask myself, how much suffering and injustice can be heaped onto one community and how do my life choices contribute to this U.S.- Mexico border reality? How is it possible that two nations that share a common faith which calls us to love our neighbor and to give more than we receive can live so divided?
While I am singularly not responsible for the disparity that exists, I do believe that Jesus’ death on the cross brings me into greater awareness of the many deaths to which I am called in order that I may more fully live in solidarity with the people of Anapra.
In this season of Lent, I pray for the simplicity, humility, compassion, love and commitment needed to bring justice and peace to our world, especially to the U.S.-Mexico border.