Guardians of creation

“Called by name and as a people, we walk together careful to the last of history, to the bloodiest parts of creation"

Together with another volunteer, today we accompanied a man to do his job in the field: picking up cocoa pod, the fruit of the cocoa tree.
Once the pods were opened, the man going extracted the beans, which he then stored to be able to sow them, thus creating new cocoa seedlings, which will bear new fruit within three years.
This man is a humble peasant.
What he desires is simply to be free to work his land and live his life happily in his Country, Colombia.
This man has been repeatedly threatened with death.
An international presence is therefore necessary to guarantee him the security of not being killed during his work in the fields or his movements.
His life, like the life of the others men, women, old people and children who make up the "Comunidad de Paz" of San José de Apartadó, are threatened.

I, we, the Operazione Colomba volunteers are here as an unarmed and nonviolent civilian escort of the Peace Community, our role is also that of international observers who denounce Human Rights violations.

By accompanying this man today, we have guaranteed him the security of not being killed, of being able to carry out that action, as simple as it is beautiful, of taking care of his field in peace, without the risk that someone would go there to threaten him or worse to hit him.
Today we accompanied him, but he too accompanied us.
We walked together for about half an hour.
He walked in front of us and we followed him.
We are careful to guarantee our and his security, he is attentive to our safety because the Colombian jungle is full of surprises and a distraction could cost us dearly.
We chatted and talked about the peculiarities of our culture.
He led us on a journey in the middle of the forest and we arrived at our cocoa plantation destination.
We walked together, we are so alike.

Yet the fact that he is threatened with death makes me feel restless, I cannot accept that, since he has made a choice of peace, they want to eliminate him at all costs.
Besides accompanying him, it often happens to accompany other people of the Community.
Sometimes we make long accompaniments that involve 5 or 6 hours of walking to reach the other villages of the community, scattered throughout the territory.

We walk together for hours and hours, sharing the same physical and mental fatigue, but also the happiness of being together and spending our lives immersed in that luxuriant nature.
We walk along the dirt trails created over the years by the passage of people and animals, amidst colorful meadows with immense flowers and trees, butterflies that color the sky, birds that sing melodies and springs from whose crystalline water quenches our thirst, when we pass by, and the thirst of animals and plants that populate the forest.

This area is rich in variety and beauty, it is one of the greatest expressions of Creation.

Sometimes, walking in these paths, my gaze is lost to observe the nature that surrounds me and I happen to think of all the victims of violence in these places, of the bloodshed in the midst of this nature, blood of war and violence, who did not stop flowing among the armed groups, but above all spilled blood from innocent civilians who had chosen to say no to war and violence, preferring to protect the natural heritage that had been entrusted to him in peace and harmony.

When I think of it, the perfect design of Creation is writhing for a moment, because for all that has happened and happens in Colombia, the responsibility is mine too.
It's of us all.
When we are not in accompaniment, we share our days with the people who live in the Community and sometimes I wonder what Saint Francis thinks of us.
Yes, St. Francis of Assisi.
I like to imagine that he is happy to see us as custodians of the guardians of Creation.
Marco Iuffrida, a journalist, writes in one of his pieces: "Truly the guardian of Creation is not just the Saint of Assisi or the Christian, but everyone. It is an act of communion and love that involves the world of men and things. So the dream of God matches that of St. Francis and the whole civilization: respect for the environment in which one lives and works, for the works of man, care for daily actions, for the person with whom one has chosen to share life, for his own and others' children. Protecting the truth corresponds to protecting a desire in the heart.”

I believe that what the people of the Community live is exactly an act of communion and love that involves men and things.
The same love that also involves me and us, who are here.
These people respect nature, they work their land, growing rice, beans, sugar cane, lentils and other products to feed themselves.
They grow corn to feed animals, which in their own way reciprocate, some with eggs, some with milk.
Mules and horses carry people and loads, but when they rest they have green pastures at their disposal to feed themselves and run freely.
Finally, there are the cocoa crops that, once dried, are then sold to national and international companies, giving an income to those who cultivate it.
Respect for the Creation, respect for Life.
This is what I breathe here.
In 22 years the Peace Community has paid with the life of 300 innocent people the decision to refuse the war and to guard the truth.
The memory of the victims of this life process of the Community is always in the heart of those who today are continuing this path of peace.
We will continue to walk together.
Together we are the strength of Creation!