Charles Wright (Guatemala)

Charles Wright (Rights Action and ADIVIMA, Guatemala): Charles completed his undergraduate degree in international affairs at Georgia Tech and taught English at an elementary school in Puebla, Mexico. At the time of his fellowship, Charles was receiving his Masters of Science in Foreign Service student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he studied foreign policy and development with a regional focus on Latin America. During his time in Washington, DC, he also interned in the US Senate and with the Cuban-American National Council.


07 Aug

It was Friday, July 28th, two weeks before my return to the States, and though there was still much work to do, I was about to experience an early homecoming.

”We are tossed and driven on the restless sea of time. Somber skies and howling tempests oft succeed a bright sunshine. In that land of perfect day, when the mist has rolled away, we will understand it by and by.”

Ominous, thunderclouds loomed on the horizon and the scent of imminent rain was in the air as families scurried into ADIVIMA´s yard to begin a two-day memorial service for six brothers, who had been killed and buried away from house and home. Although 25 years had passed, the loved ones of these men never had a chance to properly celebrate their lives, mourn their deaths,and lay them to rest.

”Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand. All the ways that God could lead us to that blessed promised land. But He guides us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die, for we’ll understand it by and by.”

For some, it was an end of a journey filled with both broken memory and body. Wives, sons, daughters, brothers – all who had had a piece of their life ripped away only to have that space flooded with a constant sorrow – could now have the closure that they had so long desired. For others –grandchildren, nieces, nephews – it was a chance to meet the relative they never knew and learn the reason behind so many nights of silent tears

Yet despite sadness, one could sense a spirit of celebration wafting on the wings of the Mayan priest´s incense and the throbbing of the marimbas. While the darkness of evening closed in on the reunion, the warmth of candles and prayers radiated out into the soft, summer night. Neither young nor old remained seated as the ceremony marched on, all lifting song and scripture in a continuous stream to the heavens. As night gave way to dawn, I headed home, but even a half-mile away I could still hear the plunk of the bass and rasp of the güiro filling the morning sky.

”By and by, when the morning comes. When the saints of God are gathered home. We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it by and by.”

Saturday was to be the day, a last chapter of a quarter-century of unfinished history and an event so significant that a Washington Post team had driven overnight to cover it. At 10 a.m. the processional filed to the cemetery, led by the six, remain-filled coffins. One by one, the families laid the men in their resting place under the watchful gaze of the afternoon sun. The chants of the priest and dissonant chords of a rickety fiddle intertwined with the rhythmic falling of tear-stained dirt, creating a soulful melody of farewell. Those that were lost had finally come home.

”Thus the homecoming comes to an end,

though the story incomplete.
Social justice is yet to be won,

to heal the wounded and meek.” –CW

– Lyrics throughout the text are from “We´ll Understand It Better By and By” by Charles A. Tindley.

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

– *A Tale of Two Cities*

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced
with courage, need not be lived again.”

– Maya Angelou

Posted By Charles Wright (Guatemala)

Posted Aug 7th, 2006


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