Once again, I closed the newspaper and tried to think of better news, instead of reading about another murder. Once again, I passed in front of the yellow tape a policeman had put up at the scene of a crime. Once again I wanted to cry out to God on behalf of the families involved. One more death. One more kid. One more driver. One more child. One more woman. One more is too much and is one more than necessary. When a human life is lost, the feelings of powerlessness and the inability to feel comfort are natural, and lately the feeling of powerlessness has begun to feel normal. But in the last few weeks, I have also been trying to reflect on new ways to listen to the Spirit that guides us in the midst of such trying times.
“Listen! Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” – Genesis 4:10
Recently I have been reading a book called Power & Poverty by Dewe Hughes. He mentions this passage from Genesis 4:10, analyzing reactions to injustice and the incorrect use of power by certain groups. Though in and of itself it is such a powerful message in the context of the struggle for power, I realized that the very literal words have a much deeper meaning than I ever previously noticed. Something special about this verse is that it is God himself who is talking; he recognizes what is going on. This should be enough to allow us to breathe more easily. God knows. God does not ignore what these hands are doing. But more than that, God speaks of the blood as a symbol of life and he speaks of your brother. What a great implication this has on my identity. The blood that has been shed is part of my blood! He also speaks of a cry – a voice that calls out for justice, a voice that speaks out of the ground, the lowest place on earth, the point from which the shed blood cannot be gathered again.
Every one of these words can be deeply analyzed, but I have found myself thinking over and over again of the phrase as a whole: ‘Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.’ I can almost hear it as if it were spoken to me! I ask myself, ‘Can you not hear it? Have you not realized? What are your going to do with that voice, that cry?’
In the middle of the city of Kingston, Jamaica there is a statue in memory of the children who have died in tragic circumstances. The title of the sculpture is ‘Gone too soon’. It is surrounded by the names of hundreds of children whose lives have been taken and the date of their murders. When we visited, we were told that at the unveiling of the statue, one of the hopes expressed was never having to write another name on it. This has not been the case. But despite the circumstances, the first step is being taken: the cry of the bloodshed has been heard. As symbolic as it can be, as little as one monument represents, it is doing something. There are people who are writing down one more name, one more date. And they seek justice.
Some of us have the privilege of walking in the ‘lowest places’ and being witnesses of the tragedy, violence, and pain that exists in these communities because of injustice, death and scarcity. We also have the privilege of listening to the cry rising up from these low places – a cry that unites us. We are witnesses of a divine voice that recognizes and hears our cry, and He does not remain silent.
Liz Herrera loves to learn, read, have a good cup of coffee and find creative ways to combine her passions: communications, urban ministries, social action and mixed media. Liz is a journalist and has served alongside the team of CTM Guatemala since 2006 and worked for over 12 years among marginalized populations with churches and non-profit organizations.