On Walking towards the Kingdom of God: Lessons from Calavera

On Walking towards the Kingdom of God: Lessons from Calavera

By Karen McClendon Siki

Being part of the 2005 Delegation was one of those rare coincidences – or perhaps acts of fate – for which one must be eternally grateful. Having arrived in San Salvador nearly one month before the delegation was set to leave, I was in the country to research Christian Base Communities as part of my Senior Thesis. Joining the delegation had neither been planned nor anticipated, but fell peacefully on my lap as an opportunity ripe for the taking. Journeying to Morazan has truly marked my heart. Firsthand I saw the efforts of a people who work relentlessly to improve their lives and walk closer in faith. The dedication of this delegation too has marked me, as they showed me how two worlds convene in one large act of faith and solidarity. It is an experience that has illuminated my work, my research, my life.
I learned many lessons during my walk in Calavera. The following is the homily that I gave to the community of San Miguelito, or better said, the lesson that these communities gave to me.

“Good morning everyone. Father asked me to share with you my reflections over this trip, and I would like to take the opportunity to do so. Among the many thoughts I had throughout our journey though, two questions burn within me: what does it mean to walk together and how can we walk together towards the Kingdom of God?
For this, I believe the Salvadoran community is a great example of the walk we aspire to as children of God. You, more over, have in these days and through the long trajectory that has been our relationship as sister communities, have taken and supported us in places that alone, we would have never been able to arrive. This, dear brothers and sisters, is how to walk together.

Accompanying: Dear brothers and sisters, you speak of great admiration for this journey that we have taken from American soil. I, however, feel that the great journey has been yours – you brothers and sisters that have accompanied us from Corinto to Jimilile, to El Salamo, El Rucio, San Miguelito, and as far as Guachipilin. You who were there always, our great friends, waiting for us. You that took us from the cobbled streets of Corinto to the most hidden nooks that this beautiful Salvadornan jungle affords, nestled among the fields that provide for your health: full of corn, beans, and bananas. During these long journeys you have accompanied us, and without your help, we would never have arrived.

Brotherhood. One of the most treasured memories I take with me was the reception that our brothers in El Rucio gave us. In midst of a thunderstorm that poured down with no remorse, a classroom filled to the brim with the song of a great group of children, supported by their teachers, parents and friends. Why did this song touch me so greatly? Because gathered in that small yet humble room overflowing with love was an entire community proudly singing their national anthem to our delegation. Brothers and sisters, this simple act shook me to the core. It inspired me because you – who suffered so much during a civil war that oppressed and repressed you, and denied you the opportunity to raise your children in a safe and secure environment, and who continue to live in conditions of extreme poverty –you with pride and love gathered together as brothers and sisters to sing us your national anthem, and in so doing showed us the faith that you still have towards your family, your community and your country.

Solidaritiy. O dear brothers and sisters, if only we could see in other parts of the world the solidarity that today is present in you the communities of Jimilile, of El Salamo, of El Rucio, of Guachipilin, and you here in San Miguelito. In supporting the projects of your communities, whether those of the nutrition programs, of the pastoral committee, or the efforts of these schools, you unite in the spirit of solidarity which is absolutely necessary to improve the conditions which surround us, a prerequisite in this walk towards a better future.

And so it is brothers and sisters, that when I wonder – how can we walk together towards the Kingdom of God – that I think greatly of you, and in you it is that I find the answer. You walk by accompanying, by helping and supporting your brother, and most importantly, you walk by maintaining the solidarity that today unifies and makes you stronger.

Once again I thank you for this opportunity to be able to walk together with you all. In these moments I find myself in the midst of God, because you are his reflection, because the Kingdom of God is here with you. I now understand why Monsenor Romero said that, “with this community, it is easy to be a good pastor.”