In the heart of Acholi land

Some memories
are starker than others.
This one had swirling
red dust rising from
the frenzied driving
of one eager to get us
to the edge of somewhere
where the road to Gulu
led to the hope of Juba. 
 
This was the land
where anthill monuments
towered by the roadside
bearing silent witness
to the comings and goings
of the dark-skinned people
who used to live there
and then were gone.

Now they return
with empty eyes,
calloused feet numbed
from the walking, and
hearts aching for lost
children and the blood
of kin spilled from
the dying.

Those that are found,
or have found
their way back,
come empty-handed
with no memories
of home, only the
cringing of soul
from the relentless
onslaught of anger
and hatred.

Yet they return—
some of them—
as though led by
some light from within,
some dim memory of
it anyway, that illumine
the way back to where
lie waiting the hope,
the hope of Juba.

And they dance,
and they sing
for those of us
who care to sit
and listen.

“Opwoyo matek!”
“Thank you!” they cry,
“We will never, never
forget you!” And we
cry, hearts filled
with aching.

[Note: This was written in remembrance of my first visit to Gulu, Northern Uganda in June 2007 with Libby Hoffman and Herm Weaver]

– Tagaytay, Philippines
July 12, 2009

Awakening Peace

October 13, 2013

How could I have known, by his smile,
that he was the enemy? The kindness in his
eyes as he said goodbye stirred something
within me of which I had no memory.

It was familiar, though, the silence where
we met; the sacrosanct space where
demons of the past could no longer speak,
tamed as they have become by that in me,
and that in him, that nestled in the quiet
of a dimly beheld longing to be set free.

It was there, waiting, in the breath of the
stone god of my childhood as I reveled in the
awakening of Christ’s I AM in me.  It was there,
in the peace of Allah that shined through from
his heart as he turned to meet me.

It is here, in our shared sanctuary of hope
where promises of tomorrow stirs awake in
the quiet ache of our wounded history.
It was familiar, though, the silence where
we met; the sacrosanct space where
demons of the past could no longer speak,
tamed as they have become by that in me,
and that in him, that nestled in the quiet
of a dimly beheld longing to be set free.

It was there, waiting, in the breath of the
stone god of my childhood as I reveled in the
awakening of Christ’s I AM in me.  It was there,
in the peace of Allah that shined through from
his heart as he turned to meet me.

It is here, in our shared sanctuary of hope
where promises of tomorrow stirs awake in
the quiet ache of our wounded history.

milf-chairman-bacron-july-26-2013

Bapa Bacron, a respected leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Aleosan, North Cotabato (Mindanao, Philippines). July 26, 2013