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Holy Land

June 16, 2008

At their next to the last night at the evacuation center, the refugees took time to dance.  It’s very Filipino, very lumad to not just move in the face of tragedy, but to sway and to jump, to pick up one’s feet and be in every moment.  The rain heaped a racket on the tin roof of the barangay hall, just a basketball court really.  No one brought them cots or snacks or clean linen and it is hard for their songs to breathe here; where the river of Babylon runs with sewage and trash.  But their music will swell in two days time, when they climb through the forest and up the mountain, toting their infants in their arms and their possessions on their backs.  They know what they will be returning to- they’ve been through this before.  There is no choice.  That land is home.

Sacredness is all in the perspective.  The holy land is the place with your people’s name; your livelihood, the soil that feeds your children.  A man cannot own the land until it owns him, until his ancestors belong to the soil that kicks up and dirties his feet.  Then it is the land where God formed him- its sacredness melts into the roots of the trees, into the veins of the crops, and the bellies and lungs of the people.

What will become of this Diaspora?  As a war wages on the banks of the Jordan, there is a world full of Holy Lands that is crying out for justice.  The lumads do not want to profit from the land, they don’t wish to kick anyone out.  They are the original Third World and their desire is not to oppress but just to survive- to be where their God tells them to be and to feed their families and teach their children.  Their weapons are bows and arrows against an entire empire of steel.

How can they win?  When I hear indigenous, my heart cries out, “It’s already too late- too many loses over too long a time.”  But I am a fool who used to believe that some lands are more sacred than others.  Holiness is relative, it’s injustice that’s as real as rain.


One Comment leave one →
  1. David permalink
    July 22, 2008 9:33 pm

    I don’t even know which entries of yours to comment on, Lindsey. The all blow me away. But I’ll pick this one, just to say:

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

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