Monday, January 3, 2011
Off the Beaten Path: The Quiet UCA
One of our favorite delegation spots is The UCA (Universidad Centroamericana) in San Salvador. We go there to share the story of the work of the Jesuits during the time of the civil war and take a quiet walk through the rose garden, remembering the sacrifice of the six men and two women who were assasinated. Sometimes we schedule a conversation with Father Dean Brackley or another faculty member. We visit the chapel, the museum and the bookstore. We have been there to hear lectures, to participate in pilgrimages and to meet with friends, but the last time I took a delegation to the UCA, we did none of this. The last time I visited the UCA, everything was closed - just one of those things that happens. So, we walked around the campus, and we enjoyed a different kind of experience.
Up on the hill a coolish breeze made a hot dry day feel lovely. The trees swayed gently and the sounds of traffic were muted by the chirping of birds and the occasional laughter of students. We walked up the stairs and around all of the campus buildings, noticing the angles of the different roof lines and walk-ways casting unique afternoon shadows across our path. We stopped in the outdoor commons, enjoying a little time walking on the shady paths and sitting for a bit at the round tables. Some peeked into the windows of the chapel, catching glimpses of the sobering artwork which hangs on the back wall.
During our downhill walk, we stopped to touch the different leaves and flowers and to peer through breaks in the wall. There were no players or fans at the soccer field, just us, admiring the views of the city and the volcano in the distance. A grassy hill invited a couple of us to lay down and rest for a bit, looking up at the blue, blue sky, branches and birds overhead.
For a little while, we were all in college, hanging out on campus during the quiet hours after class, enjoying nature and walking and friends.