by Lauren Godwin
March 24, 1980, Monseñor Oscar Romero was murdered while completing one of his priestly functions, holding mass. In honor of his work, mission, and life Lauren Godwin has agreed to share a reflection delivered at a Drew Theological School Chapel Service celebrating the experiences of several students and two professors that traveled on a cross-cultural trip to El Salvador. In this specific reflection, Lauren shared Romero's quote listed below and then connected it to the time the group spent in the Nueva Emmanuel Community. This Palm/Passion Sunday, as you journey towards the cross, may you hold the words of Oscar Romero in your heart: "aspire not to have more but to be more."
We visited a community of squatters called Nueva Emmanuel. This is a community, for the most part, that is built out of cardboard, metal, and items we would consider junk or trash. We had the privilege of taking part in a community meeting where everyone: women, men, children, and some animals showed up to talk to us about their hopes, joys, dreams, and concerns. Not only did we listen to the community, but we also took part in the El Salvadorian version of the chicken dance. We heard story after story about how the community was working together and the struggles that they were facing.
After the community meeting, we split up into teams and visited some of the homes. While visiting with members of the community individually we learned even more personal stories that would move you at your core. After those holy moments, we began to gather back at the van and said our goodbyes to the families that had showed us their homes. I think the thing that sticks out most about this trip to me was a simple request that came from the members of this community: Do not forget us.
Although this request came from the Nueva Emmanuel community, I think it speaks true to the larger country. It seems like an easy request...remember us. In a world where we are told we can buy things for people or give financial support to help a cause, this request to remember requires something more. It requires intentionality, a personal commitment that carries on for a lifetime. It is the same intentionality that I think the scripture call us to in Deuteronomy 4:9: "only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and let these things depart your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children. And to your children's children." How will you remember?
Lauren Godwin is a provisional elder of the West Virginia Annual Conference. She will graduate from Drew Theological School this May. She looks forward to graduation, and entering into full time parish ministry where she anticipates continuing to incorporate El Salvador and the work of Oscar Romero in her ministry.