Sunday, August 17, 2008

el Dios de los pobres

"Vos sos el Dios de los pobres [You are the God of the poor]
El Dios humano y sencillo [The human and simple God}
El Dios que suda en la calle [The God who sweats on the street]
El Dios de rostro curtido. [The God with a weather beaten face]
Por eso es que te hablo yo [That's why I speak to you]
Así como te habla mi pueblo [Just like my people speak to you]
Porque sos el Dios obrero [Because you are the worker God]
El Cristo trabajador... [the worker Christ]

Yo te he visto en uno pulpería [I have seen you in a corner store]
Te he visto vendiendo lotería [I have seen you selling lottery tickets]
sin que te avergüence ese papel. [without being ashamed of this role]
Yo te he visto en las gasolineras [I have seen you in the gas stations]
Chequeando los llantas de un camión [checking the tires of a truck]
Y hasta patroleando carreteras [even patrolling the highways]
con guantes de cuero y overol. [with leather gloves and overalls]

The poetry above is part of the Nicaraguan Misa Campesina, or people's mass. It was written in the 1970s by Carlos Mejia Godoy, one of the country's most famous musicians, who traveled extensively throughout Nicaragua to listen to the voices of the people, to create this work of art. The words are the slang of the campo, the instruments are the ones played by the people, and the message? The message is the message of Immanuel--that God is with us in the most humble of places, most difficult of circumstances, and that He understands because he has been there.

I had a chance to hear the entire Misa live in Nicaragua's national theater last week performed by Carlos Mejia Godoy, his band, and a group of classical musicians. (It was sort of a strange juxtaposition to be singing of Christ being in solidarity with the poor while sitting in a huge air conditioned theater, but it was also interesting to see how the entire population of Nicaragua, of all social classes, has come to appreciate this music and how they sang along with pride and emotion during some of the songs.)

All in all, it was a powerful experience for me to consider how this musical work has touched the lives of so many people, how it has brought the reality of God's presence and love closer to people who perhaps don't even own clothes they consider nice enough to enter a church, and how the gospel must speak into social injustices, as well as our spiritual soul condition.

For the words and work of Christ are not only for me, but for my neighbor and my community as well. And especially for the least of these.

(p.s. Thanks Jenny for the correction to one of the lines--I thought something was off!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

major fire in managua

Friends, I know there is plenty of suffering all over the world every day--I just want to share one piece of that suffering that is affecting the families of people here in Nicaragua this week.

There was a major fire in Managua's largest open-air market (some say it's the largest open-air market in Central America) a couple days ago. It took the fire fighters two days to put it out, and in the meantime it destroyed several acres of land covered with various little stores where people sell all kinds of household items, clothing, shoes, automotive supplies, food, and anything else you can think of--a grand total of at least $2 million dollars worth of merchandise. Yes, dollars. Many of these small business people had loans with various banks that they used to buy of the goods they sell--and they lost everything. Others had been building their business for 2o years and it all (literally) went up in smoke this week.

The press reported today the apparent cause of the fire was a circuitry issue caused by someone who was stealing power from the electric company.

The economic situation here is already so hard for so many people, with prices rising and work hard to come by. I just ask for your prayers and good thoughts, for those of you so inclined, on behalf of the hundreds of Nicaraguans who lost so much this week and are beginning the work of rebuilding their businesses and their lives.

Que la paz, la gracia, y la sabiduria de Dios sea con todos que han perdido tanto la semana pasada. Ayudales a levantar sus espiritus and comenzar el trabajo de reconstruir sus negocios en una manera que te glorifica, aun en medio de esta tragedia.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

cisternas rotas

I'm sitting in a plastic chair somewhere in rural Queretaro (MX), pondering these words: You have abandoned your first love and replaced it with broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Cisternas rotas. Broken cisterns.

Cracked and dirty, useless pieces of pottery that dress themselves up with new layers of imaginative colors that draw the eye away from the fissures they try to hide with shame.

I know something about cisternas rotas. Many times in the last year I've eagerly gulped down the sandy water that accumulates in these dusty old clay vessels instead of seeking the pure spring that comes from the eternal Well.

Cisternas rotas. The thing about dirty water is that after a while, you start to forget what the other kind tastes like. You mean there is a place I can drink without guilt or shame? A place I can gather water that will last more than the moment in which I swallow? A kind of water that will truly quench my thirst for love?

I find myself standing at the edge of an old well. I've been here before. Alone, wondering where a truly abundant life really lies. Suddenly, a man appears and asks for a drink. He says something about a well that never runs dry. Ever prone to distraction, I change the subject to a prophesy about the coming of a Messiah. "He will reveal everything to us." Maybe my life with change one day, but certainly not today. Then, this.

"I who speak to you am he."

"Anyone who comes to me and drinks, from within him will flow streams of living water."

He tells me everything I have ever done. He knows it all, and yet he does not run. Nor does his face judge me. A thousand times I have fallen and yet he tells me to go, and tell the others about him.

As I walk away, I think to myself..."Maybe at last I can give up my cisternas rotas."