29 Mar CROSS OF LAMPEDUSSA IN THE SCHOOL/CADIZ. Spain
A new boat, recently painted, clean planks of wood well nailed together. Security, fishing, transportation…
That boat already used, chipped paint, splinters, rusted nails. 366 people inside. 366 dreams struggling to keep afloat in a sea that started out tranquil and becomes unnavigable. Wooden planks floating, broken some grasped in an effort to save lives, others mortally striking them. No survivors.
Lampedusa. Someone picks up two planks, seasons them, sands them down, nails them together again… but this time they don’t go out to sea; they stay on land in the form of a cross, blessed by someone that feels the terror hidden in the depths of that cemetery-sea, the broken dreams and interrupted lives.
And there it is, we are in the presence of that cross — blue like the sea, broken like the sea, sad like the sea… Almost three meters that reach toward the heavens crying ENOUGH, crying out to the world that we are witnesses and accomplices of these systematic deaths, that we are washing our hands with excuses that “I am innocent of the blood of this just man.” (Mt. 27:24)
In the presence of this cross, accompanied by 50 students who feel the gravity of these wooden boards and offer a respectful silence without my having to explain anything more to them, I feel like the people who a long time ago beheld an innocent man crucified, the consequence of actions, of words, of a society established for some… equal. All this reminds me that 21 years later, Jesus continues to die on the cross, we continue killing him or permitting him to be killed in other bodies, in other circumstances, but with the same injustices and for the same reasons. We continue on without understanding his message, or without wanting to understand it. We continue justifying ourselves, saving ourselves, surviving…without realizing that situations such as this accuse us, condemn us, kill us…
The entire educational community has passed before the Cross of Lampedusa. How fortunate we are, to be able to pray, to feel, to reflect and to cry in its presence. How lucky we and our students are to receive this powerful message from our Pope, and what a great commitment we have now: to be the voice, the cry, to be witnesses and messengers. “They are not just migrants.” They are persons. “Let us not continue to be anesthetized.” Let ourselves feel the pain, the suffering of the other. Let us not wash our hands with the water of indifference.
The cross moves on. To the next station. And it never stops. At least, not while there are still boats that experience what it has had to experience.
Eva Ramos (Teacher at the Handmaids’ school in Cádiz)