Friday, April 18, 2014

Threatened with Resurrection (The Words of Guatemalan Poet Julia Esquivel)

Julia Esquivel is a Guatemalan poet and theologian exiled in Mexico. She has worked with several human rights organizations, and her poetry has been widely recognized in the Americas. 

As her native Guatemala endured nearly 30 years of catastrophic political violence under the rule of a series of dictators, Esquivel watched as thousands and thousands of Maya, Quichez and other indigenous groups were savagely murdered. Hundreds of villages were literally wiped off the face of the earth and the entire nation experienced a type of profound communal trauma in the face of massive and often arbitrary brutality.  Where others gave up hope, or took up arms in resistance, Esquivel searched for another path toward peace, playing the role of activist, poet, and minister. One of her most popular books is entitled The Certainty of Spring.

The poem "They Have Threatened Us with Resurrection" reflects the anguish created by years of repression and war in her native Guatemala and other Central American countries in the 1970s, and1980s. On this Good Friday, I would like to share some excerpts from the poem.

It is something within us that doesn't let us sleep,
that doesn't let us rest,
that won't stop pounding
deep inside,
it is the silent, warm weeping
of Indian women without their husbands,
it is the sad gaze of the children
fixed somewhere beyond memory,
precious in our eyes
which during sleep,
though closed, keep watch,
diastole, awake...
What keeps us from sleeping
is that they have threatened us with Resurrection!
Because at each nightfall
though exhausted from the endless inventory since 1954*,
yet we go on loving life
and do not accept their death!..
Join us in this vigil
and you will know what it is to dream!
Then you will know how marvelous it is
to live threatened with Resurrection!

-Julia Esquivel
Read full poem on Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality

(Translationfrom Spanish by Ann Woehrle)
*Inventory since 1954: year in which the government of President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by a CIA-backed mercenary army coup, which initiated the unrelenting and ever-mounting repression by the military regimes in continuous power since then.

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