By Brian Flagg,
It really pissed me off, for weeks leading up to the day.
I successfully avoided celebrations and instead went by myself to camp and read and walk into Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains east of Benson.
It was the most perfect and most sacred place I could go to.
I spent time reading about and reflecting with Cochise, Fr. Jon Sobrino and Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, Hugo Chavez and Simon Bolivar, St. Ignatius and of course mi novia, Jesus!
The first reading from the mass on my birthday was from Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel. After Cain killed his brother Abel, God said to Cain, “Can’t you hear how the blood of your brother is crying out to me from the earth?” As I walked through those incredibly beautiful and colorful rock formations of Cochise Stronghold, I couldn’t help but think and experience the same about the blood of the Chiricahua Apaches, who called those mountains home from the late 1700’s until the late 1800’s, when the U.S. government conquered them and forcibly removed them from their land. Cochise and his people were famous for holding out and evading capture longer than all the other tribes due to their intimate knowledge of those mountains. This is but one very sad and brutal story of the genocide of the Native American people.
Over the two days I spent there I received inspiration and grace to get beyond my own petty and self absorbed feelings.
My trip to the Stronghold was really quite mystical and I realized that I was not alone. The presence of the Creator God was there, showering me with forgiveness and love and the desire to be part of a struggle for justice that can somehow right the wrongs of my Anglo ancestors. Fr. Ellacuria, one of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador, always insisted that we as a Catholic Christian people have to “reverse, subvert and launch history in another direction.”
That is what I want to be part of!
So yeah, I’m pretty old and I can no longer play basketball because of my knees, but so what, the Struggle continues! And I pray to God that I can live a life poured out as a joyful human sacrifice in the struggle. ANIMO!