12.02.2009

Making the Abstract Real

On December 2, 1980 four American churchwomen working with the poor in El Salvador – Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missioner Jean Donovan – were kidnapped, abused and murdered by the US backed military of El Salvador. In the end they met the same fate as thousands of the unnamed poor of El Salvador who were killed or disappeared.

What follows is an except from a letter written by Ita Ford to her niece and goddaughter Jennifer a few months before her murder. I found it somewhere online and used it a few years ago in an Advent Peace Vigil. It takes the abstract and makes it very real in the every day sense.

August 18, 1980
Dear Jennifer,

The odds that this note will arrive for your birthday are poor, but know I'm with you in spirit as you celebrate 16 big ones. …

What I want to say...some of it isn't too jolly birthday talk, but it's real... Yesterday I stood looking down at a 16-year-old who had been killed a few hours earlier. I know a lot of kids even younger who are dead. This is a terrible time in El Salvador for youth. A lot of idealism and commitment is getting snuffed out here now. …


Brooklyn is not passing through the drama of El Salvador, but some things hold true wherever one is, and at whatever age. What I'm saying is, I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you...something worth living for, maybe even worth dying for...something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead. I can't tell you what it might be -- that's for you to find, to choose, to love. I can just encourage you to start looking, and support you in the search. Maybe this sounds weird and off-the-wall, and maybe, no one else will talk to you like this, but then, too, I'm seeing and living things that others around you aren't...

I want to say to you: don't waste the gifts and opportunities you have to make yourself and other people happy... I hope this doesn't sound like some kind of a sermon because I don't mean it that way. Rather, it's something you learn here, and I want to share it with you. In fact, it's my birthday present to you. If it doesn't make sense right at this moment, keep this and read it sometime from now. Maybe it will be clearer...

A very happy birthday to you and much, much love,
Ita

1 comment:

Kelly_SSJ/A said...

wow!!! That definetly resounds with me...how powerful!