The refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence in Honduras are much on my heart these days. Through Project Via Crucis, a Central Pennsylvania ministry of accompaniment with the churches and people of El Salvador, I was privileged to participate in five PVC delegations during the early to mid-1990s. Walking and worshiping with the faithful, oppressed people of Central America irrevocably changed my understanding and perspective. This blog post and the video it references are my response to the present day suffering of Hondurans and to the terrible misinformation about them that our government officials want us to believe.
From photographs of El Salvador and other meaningful locations I have created a video slideshow set to the song “Counterpoint to Wonder” by Carolyn McDade. The song, with its challenge to each of us to choose with whom we stand, grew out of Carolyn’s own experiences in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Here is the link to view the video on YouTube: Counterpoint to Wonder. What follows are thumbnail images of the slides with identification of location and relevance to the words of the song. I invite readers to view the video first, then return to this blog post to learn about the images, then view the video a second time, keeping this information in mind.
Frames 1 and 4: Bay of Fundy shoreline at Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, Canada. Here French settlers lived and thrived from 1682 until they were expelled and deported as part of the British military campaign against New France between 1755 and 1764.
Frames 2 and 3: Title, copyright, and recording information
Frame 5: Grandmothers Hills, a section of unbroken prairie in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, where First Nations people and descendants of European settlers partner to conserve native prairie and wildlife habitat
Frame 6: Outskirts of Comunidad Ignacio Ellacuría, Chalatenango, El Salvador. In February 1990 the Salvadoran military conducted a bombing raid on the community, then named Corral de Piedra, killing six villagers, including five children, and wounding at least 20 more. Later the community renamed itself in honor of Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., one of the six Jesuit teachers at the University of Central America who were murdered, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, by a Salvadoran death squad in November 1989.
Frames 7 and 12: Mountains of El Salvador, near the Honduran border
Frame 8: Rufina Amaya, one of the few survivors of the December 1981 massacre at El Mozote, Morazán, El Salvador, stands near a simple memorial at the site of the slaughter and tells her story to delegates from Project Via Crucis. Here the infamous Atlacatl Battalion murdered hundreds of villagers, raping the women and burning the bodies. The Reagan administration, which strongly supported Salvadoran authorities, steadfastly denied initial reports. Mark Danner’s detailed investigative 1993 article in The New Yorker remains one of the best accounts of the atrocity.
Frame 9: Rural road in Chalatenango, El Salvador
Frame 10: The graves of Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, two of the four U.S. women religious workers who were assassinated by a Salvadoran death squad on the night of December 2, 1980. They are buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Chalatenango City, Chalatenango.
Frame 11: This photo portrait of Archbishop (now Saint) Óscar Arnulfo Romero hangs in the Romero Center of the UCA. On the night that the six Jesuits were assassinated, one of the soldiers attacked the portrait with a flame thrower, melting the glass over it and badly singeing, but not completely destroying, the picture. The melted glass can be seen along the sides of the frame. The photo remains as a symbol of resilience and hope.
Frame 13: Children and youth welcome visitors
Frame 14: The sewing cooperative at Comunidad Ignacio Ellacuría. With electricity nearly non-existent in the villages, treadle machines were prized possessions.
Frame 15: The “wall of martyrs,” commemorating those in the Human Rights Commission who were murdered because of their work.
Frame 16: The main street through María, Madre de los Pobres, a very poor barrio on the outskirts of San Salvador.
Frame 17: Members of a Project Via Crucis delegation, walking with the children of one of the communities we visited.
Frame 18: Project Via Crucis members, choosing to “cast [their] lot with those who, walking, lead the road.”
Frame 19: A double rainbow bends over my neighborhood in Lititz.
Frame 20: A surprising morning rainbow, anchored in farm fields north of Lititz, anchored in Love.
Frame 21: Sun breaks through storm clouds along Newport Road, just west of Lititz.
Frame 22: Dedication and end title