03/28/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – She was wrapped in the elegance of an era gone by. A refugee of the Mexican War, her English was nonexistent, but her stature spoke of kindness. Within her arms was an overflowing food basket, which she laid down before the door. My eyes caught her ghostly frame as she drifted away, the food at the door filling an otherwise completely empty home. How did she know? Who told her?
Years later, another food basket and refugee. This time the feet of a curly head child tiptoe around a wheelbarrow that her parents are filling with eggs, pasta, rice, and lentils. They begin arguing with another family, worried that there is not enough for everyone. The child’s head turns towards me, her fingers deformed by violence making their way to her mouth as she shyly looks away again.
Our morning shopping excursion for the food packages was precipitated a few days earlier by a visit to a mass grave where 3,000 Christians, this little girl’s ancestors, were killed because of their faith. During that visit, my feet were surrounded by adult femurs and jaw bones, as only the children were given the decency of a burial. For the Christians who received ICC’s food packages, this mass grave created 75 years earlier was a warning of the genocide that they themselves would experience. The inquiries of these Christians are slightly different. Where were you? Why did it take you so long to find us?
In my office at ICC, a small shadow box holds what is called a tear. I have had this perfectly round, black obsidian rock for nearly 15 years. According to my own community’s legend, these rocks are the tears of the victims of yet another mass grave. Descendants give them to each other as a reminder framed as an open question: When is enough?
These questions remain unanswered. But every food basket, piece of clothing, medical procedure, livelihood development, or other item brought by ICC also brings good news: nothing is forgotten, hope is not absent, and love still exists. Life is crossed-shaped, but the tomb is now empty, and the newness of life is coming. It may even already be here.
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