Grace Pilgrimage 2010, Bogotá, Colombia
Diaries of the Pilgrimage
1. November, the start of the pilgrimage.
by Sabine Lichtenfels
At 4.30 the Father, my daughter Vera, Meike and I drive to the park of the “Piedras de Tunja" to prepare the ritual. We place water in the center of a large circle, a large candle and eight small candles around it.
It is a wonderful park, it breathes majestic eternity, and one gets the impression, as if the souls of all the indigenous people are living here, who once guarded their knowledge of community and were resisting in a non-violent way as long as possible. In 1537 their resistance was broken. But we can feel that an energy is living here, that can never be broken. It is a sacred place. The Sacred Matrix can be felt and you also feel that human powers lived here which were connected with it.
At 5.15, all the other pilgrims arrive. It becomes a wonderful ritual. Everyone holds an incense stick, we read the Ring of Power together. Then we form four circles, oriented on the I Ching. I explain the meaning of the circles. One is for the community, one for the return, the turning point, one for the global community movement, one for the gathering. "Keeping Still - The mountain, is next to a powerful dynamics, our source of strength on this journey." I take these words to me spiritually.
The Father and I say a prayer. Then everyone makes a power walk to the big stones, to formulate their personal prayer. Each blesses the site with water and with his incense.
All pilgrims receive a power stone, that we blessed in Tamera in our stone circle. It was important to perform a ritual here in this place, which is based on ancient traditions of indigenous peoples, and at the same time to perform it in a playful way, so one notices that we are not a religious group. Rhythmically, together we call a power sentence: "With your help we will succeed." In many languages. In the first round, we say this to each other, then we lift our stone to the sky and tell it to the divine source.
Now the sense of community is once again increased dramatically. We sing the anthem of San Jose de Apartado and the song Noyana. Then the journey goes back to our meeting place for breakfast.
The bus arrives one hour late. One has to get used to the dynamics of a different timing. Every time, the big learning process in the pilgrimages is to create a reasonably collective mood in the intervals.
In Fontibon, the gateway of Bogota, named after indigenous origin, we get out. We welcome Gloria Cuartas, who comes directly from Bogotá. We quickly are on one line. Accompanied by our wonderful musicians, we make a pilgrimage through the city and are warmly welcomed in a school by the rector. It is a generous place, wonderfully suited to form the first groups. One consists of 55 youth, the others are rather small.
One member of the Council never fails to move deeply through his words. He requests that what if that we are planning in Israel, we would do in Mulatos, too? Mulatos is a hamlet of the peace community, which is located in the remote rain forest: a Peace Research Village, a model of peace in a crisis area, where we include all issues of a new culture. He now courageously takes up our original idea, because he knows that the chance of survival will increase strongly, when a place of global scale is built up here. After the pilgrimage, we will come together for three days and intensively discuss the question how to continue.
The musicians on stage enchant the square, the band Poesia Samba Soul from Sao Paulo, perform together with our youth. Sharon, a musician from Israel, had prepared a masterpiece of rhythmic stick strokes with them. Together with Michael from Israel, they sang a very deep song about the miracle of Mulatos. More and more people came and stayed. Police, at first sullen and aloof, were becoming ever more curious. Now was the time for speeches. Jesus Emilio from San Josecito and Gildardo from Mulatos held a moving speech about their situation. I spoke on the need for a global community movement. My words came clear and precise and without doubt: "Stepping out of the system of violence." Lastly one of the indigenous people gave a wonderful speech, fully in the spirit of the global movement and the need to build autarkic models if we want to survive.
31. 10. 2010, the day before the start of the pilgrimage
by Sabine Lichtenfels
The people of San Josecito arrived in Facatativá in the morning by bus, completely fatigued. Our first meeting was at a crossroads. It is a great challenge to lead ca. 140 people who are gathering just for the first time. That it succeeded, was an artwork of improvisation. Luckily I have such a smooth co-operation with Father Javier Giraldo.
Several armed policemen were standing on the other side of the street, including a man with a camera, that was unknown to us. Someone from the group from Facatativa, with which we cooperate, went towards the cameraman in a rather aggressive way in order to stop him; and so we had the first task to introduce ourselves as leadership team. They probably expected us to hold an aggressive demonstration that would bring uproar to the whole city. Because of this, the many policemen.
But amazingly fast we get our people in one common line, and banners are brought out. Father Giraldo, our translator and networker Meike Müller and I walk in front, and right behind us, the Brazilians and Israelis. Poesia Samba Soul from Sao Paulo - what a wonderful music band! They have helped us all day to build a positive energy.
Children, youth, even fairly old campesinos, women, and a larger group of the Consejo (Council) of the peace community San José de Apartado are among us, as well as a smaller group of indigenous people, some of which we know already.
Out of financial, but also organizational reasons, we could not let more than 57 people come from the peace community. Part of them come completely without luggage, and when asked why they did not bring anything, they say that they don't possess the requested items such as mattresses, blankets or water bottles. Our organizing team Phoebe, Klaus and Kate must perform miracle after miracle. And again and again, after the first excitement, everything works.
We walk through the streets, and people are coming out of houses and stores. Something like this they don't know. Who are we? No party? No religion? What are farmers and Internationals doing together? It is a wonderful mix of everything, so that no one can think: I already know this. Our flyers are being received with great interest.
In a small room where we will eat and sleep, we put off our luggage, the meeting place is the Santander Square, where speeches and groups are planned as well as cooking on the fire. It was chaotic. In groups we visited a small township, where a community has been living below a place called "Virginia de Rock" for 40 years. They live on waste processing, a grandmother with many children and grandchildren, a total of about 70 people.
How a child´s eyes are looking at you there, in the middle of a garbage dump, residing in wooden crates. Under a tarp are a few old chairs, that is the salon in which we are led. The grandmother loves the Father and thanks him, how he stays loyal to them. She is surrounded by children and tells her story.
In the spring of 2009, they were attacked by helicopters, the whole "village" went up in flames, and two of her grandchildren were killed. She tells with tears and a little boy, also with tears in his eyes, puts his head on her belly to comfort her.
We are there for a much too short time, since no more than 20 people fit into the small "living room". Her desire was that they have enough to eat at Christmas. We will make a small collection. If people want to participate in a Christmas surprise, you can transfer to the GRACE Foundation with the tag "Virginia de Rock."
In the mean time, we are getting hungry. The food was scheduled for 1 clock, but on the small flame the soup takes hours. No one is accustomed to vegetarian cooking. For us it was important to give this signal, so that on the pilgrimage we are as free as possible from complicity. It is evening y the time the soup is ready.
We use this opportunity to launch the game "Who are you?" on the Santander Square. People sit in two rows face to face, to tell each other why they are on this pilgrimage. It is the first attempt to create a group feeling, many are still very shy, but the energy gets ever more cheerful and friendly, and finally one has that first feeling of a group.
Also, the organization team of Facatativa was very cooperative. They are with us all the time. All love the Father, he brings a certain quality in the resistance movement by actually connecting political and spiritual acting with one another. And before the soup is finally ready, we even give a geistig (mental-spiritual) introduction to the pilgrimage. "What is GRACE?"
The night was for most not connected with a lot of sleep. By 1 clock, the first set their alarm clock to take a shower, because there was only one shower. To be clean and washed is very important, especially for people from the poverty areas. They gladly sacrifice sleep for this.