"My Witness for Peace delegation have all gone home except Bill and Carol who are letting me sleep on the floor of their room here at the Hotel Mercedes. I'm sitting by the pool drinking a beer. The Cuban National Baseball team is staying here. The team comes in to look at the pool. They are in Managua for a huge baseball tournament. Their uniforms look so nice. So new in a country of old stuff. Three days ago, I was 150 miles east of here, in the war zone. Lots of gunfire. Lots of automatic weapons. Lots of kids like the boy of 15 who'd been in the army four years. Never seen a 15 year old with eyes like that.
Sitting by the pool. Cognitive dissonance. this place costs $73 per night. The average Nicaraguan makes $300 per year.
rode up to Leon, Nicaragua the other day. Cost 10 cents for a 3 hour ride. On a flatcar with real people. Don't know their politics. Looks like life is hard for them. But lots of happiness. One older man engages me in conversation. He speaks no English. I speak just a touch of Spanish. We talk baseball. A common denominator. He tells me of the Nicaraguan baseball players who've gone on to play in the U.S. Major Leagues. He tells me he has four wives.
In Leon, I visited the remains of the dictator Somoza's prison. It's 9am and the tiny roofless cells are ovens. I sit in one and meditate on the scratches various prisoners have left on the wall. There is a chapel here, in the prison, in this Christian country. Someone has torn the cross out of the wall.
Across the street is a park which was a mass grave for Somoza's National Guardsmen. A man sprays weed killer here. Across the street, the "last stand" building, where the National Guardsmen refused to come out and surrender to the Sandinista's. The walls are pocked with bullet holes. Uncountable. The Sandinista militia finally gave up waiting, pumped gasoline into the building and torched it. Can you be a self-proclaimed "Christian Revolutionary" and burn people alive?
Back at the Hotel Mercedes the next morning, Bill and Carol have caught their plane. I sit on the bed, its so cold I can almost see my breath. The Mickey Mouse Club is on the cable TV. I'm afraid to go outside. It's been a couple weeks of fear and a couple weeks of love and a couple weeks of God. Something's happened to me and I'm not sure what that something is. I finally leave and walk over to Norm's house (friend from Madison, who's letting me stay there for a week while I wander around). I walked around Managua for a week. I saw God in a lot of places. God didn't answer when I asked how people could appropriate him/her to justify horrible acts of violence and why didn't God put a stop to this?"
On this Halloween, age 51, I still don't have a clear answer to that question of whether God is benevolent and loves us or a punishing God who really doesn't like us all that much. I have moments of clarity. Experiences of God as love. God as Creator. Times, many times, that I feel God's presence. Then I watch the horrors perpetrated in the world and I feel the confusion again. Like I felt as I shivered in the Hotel Mercedes 20 years ago. Afraid to leave the room. But I do leave the room. Faith in God? I think so. Or is it faith in humanity. I feel God's presence in every living thing. So faith in God draws me out. Today, I feel that I will always have questions about God like I've written here. And that's ok. Faith and hope keep me going. Especially since I'm a Cub fan.