no matter what you call it
there is no name capable
of disguising or assuaging the horrors
associataed with such places.
THE KILLING FIELDS
Yesterday we spent a handful of hours at The Killing Fields. Having grown up during in the 60’s and 70’s, I was keenly aware of the Viet Nam War, but I now realize that all the news paper headlines, all the stories from friends who fought in the war, all the classroom hours spent studying this atrocity, could never have prepared me for what I saw today. One would think that the continuous images splashed across the black and white TV I watched as a child, and the pictures in Life and Look magazines would have prepared me. But no mater how graphic or how intense the stories were nothing could have made me ready for the brokenness I felt after my time at the Killing Fields.
Today I shall share Haiku reflections written by everyone on the team.
men, women, farmers, children
women brought to tears
children laughing, selling books
coffee shop witness
land mine accidents
building their community
loving, hope-filled men
you listen and cry
their words haunt your breaking heart
remember them all
every life a bracelet now
a breeze cools the pain
they were so lost, God
people’s hearts all turned to stone
can we seek justice now
ripples tell stories
the dead rest untouched for now
watery dark graves
white flags surrender
the killing fields laugh out loud
no one makes it out
darkness turns to light
we pray for Cambodia
God is listening
TOUL SLENG, S 21
Today we spent a number of hours at S21, Toul Sleng, the most notorious of the detainee/torture camps in Cambodia. I think one of the most painful parts of this camp was that it was a high school taken over by the Khmer Rouge with the single mission of making people confess to crimes they did not commit in order to justify their torture and eradication. The painful reality of this atrocity really became real for us when Judith said, “Do you realize that Del Mar High School, where I taught and Dylan went to high school, was built 10 years before this school was built? (1959-Del Mar High in San Jose opened — 1969 the high school that became known as Toul Sleng, S21, was opened) Then we were hit with the sobering realization that LAUMC, our church, was built in 1957, 12 years before the Toul Sleng was opened) All of a sudden the events of the Cambodian Genocide were more dramatically a part of our lives, part of our time lines, part of our world, and part of the depth of grief we were feeling.
Some in our group didn’t go in… some stayed for an hour and a half…I stayed as long as I could, 2 3/4 hours… until it closed. To be honest, that was too much time for my heart and not enough time at all to ask God to forgive humanity for the evil we brought upon our bothers and sisters. I wish I could go back again to just sit, process, shake off the numbness so I could cry, and try to understand the sometimes twisted mind of humanity. I just want to sit on the playground, invite God to sit along side me, and try to make sense of something that makes no sense, can not be rationalized, and can not be justified.
was once a high school
transformed to a hell on earth
teachers taught the kids
then the kids killed the teachers
how could this happen
all schools deserted
then transformed into prisons
hope turned to despair
classrooms became cells
and I thought my school was bad
God made me lucky
rebels must confess
beat, break, bleed, smash, slash, crush, kill
rebels must confess
so much pain around
yet a young one smiles still
My dreams sre broken
pain, fear, grief, are my life now
my world is apart
CAROL’S CLOSING THOUGHTS
When darkness creeps into this world it is always important to find light.
It is in light that we find the strength to take one more step forward,
It is in light that we push away darkness,
It is in light that we find hope and courage,
It is in light that we know God is present.
Thanks for walking along side us these last few days. They have been challenging.
Continuing to remember whose light we stand in.
Carol Damonte and the 7 Abolitionists, Dylan , Andrew, Janice, Dave, Judith, Kim and Phil