“It is time to take the funeral out of the funeral parlor…” Hector Aristozabol, Puppetista
Dear All – This past week I went again to Georgia to join in witnessing with thousands of others the call to close the School of the Americas and the transformation of oppressive U.S. policy.
I was especially honored to see one of our partners there, Padre Alberto from Colombia who I work with on the Ethics Commission. From the stage, he spoke of the deep need for the continued joining of hands between the north and the south to build a new future and transform a very painful history.
This year there was a slight change in the traditional funeral procession that usually occurs within the area permitted by the police. This year a group of folks and the Puppetistas (an artist group that joins us and makes puppets and pageantry for the weekend) left the permitted space.
This group walked through the police barricades, past lines of officers and marched into the street taking our witness as Hector had said…out of the funeral parlor. This was not to damage or change the traditional witness, but to raise up the idea of memory as resistance.
Our grief is not private for if we make it private we make it individual denying the necessary whole to which our grief flows from. Our grief is public because the story of what created all the loss and tragedy in Latin America belongs to all of us as one human family, as one nation of participative democracy, and as one faithful spirit led community.
Our ritual then of reading the names of all those killed and calling out Presente! cannot stay in the “funeral parlor” or permitted area but needs to flow out beyond the arbitrary borders enforced by authorities for grief, for recognition, and for healing. It was a powerful act and I was proud to be part of stretching the boundaries.
I think of Advent coming up and the ritual remembrance we do as a community of the journey of Mary and Joseph. We are not just remembering this beautiful piece of our tradition. We are recommitting ourselves to the inherent resistance within its lines. Mary and Joseph broke the norms of the day, resisted local authorities and had the courage and vision to accept Holy Mystery with no guarantees or promises.
Can we? Can we flow out of boundaries, out of fear, and uncertainties toward that which is unknown and waiting to be born if we can but say yes? I would love to hear all your stories this Advent season of how memory has served to teach, inspire and raise up new paths forward in your lives…Much Peace Liz