In the early summer of 2005, I traveled to Colombia with CPT. Among so many others, we meet an older couple whose son was murdered 18 years previous because he went fishing on the wrong day in the wrong place – or so another man with a gun thought at the time. I wonder if that man still lives and what he thinks of that life he took now. I wonder if there were other lives taken. I wonder the cost to him in the taking. I wonder about wildernesses of our own making, we human-war-making beings. These are the things I wonder now.
What I wrote, what I prayed at the time, was all about these parents growing old without their boy . . .
Dona Marcelena and Don Juan sit and speak quietly. Don Juan tells us, “we do not manage the fear; the fear manages us,” describing nights of belly-gripping terror, spent listening to every sound of the forest, every rustling leaf a potential FARC, ELN or para.
O God, forgive us that in their old age, we visit on such folk fear and not peace, sorrow and not joy at a race well run.
They have had 16 children, but even 15 will not make up for the one who is missing from their table.
Prodigals do not always leave by choice.