– Where are you from?
– I’m from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
– Ohh, I heard about the violence. It must be terrible.
– …(inner sigh, energy drained, darkness, smile) Oh, it’s better now.
A form of this conversation is annoyingly common here in St. Louis, MO. My barber thinks the same happens to St. Louisans when outsiders find out where they are from, and ask about the violence. Why does this question make me sigh inside?
I think it is because it gets the conversation started on such a dark note. In this city, I learned what it means to be a loving person. Here I experienced tremendous joys, and friendship. This is where God met me for the first time! I don’t want to shy away from the real violence, but I’d like to be able to show you the entire picture. So, I couldn’t be more happy that the Pope is coming to visit my hometown, and that my provincial asked me to talk about it. Now part of the conversation can be:
– Oh, I heard the Pope is coming to visit!
– Yes! Let me tell you all about it!
So, where do we begin? I think I’d like to begin with what in the tradition of St. Ignatius is called a: “Composition of place.” I’ll try to paint a picture of the places where I grew up, and where the Pope will be walking through this Wednesday February 17, 2016. I hope to be able to convey what his visit means for me and for the people in Juarez. Please let me know what you’d like to hear about.