What starts with the rosary and ends with a knife fight? In Las Moras, the answer is a village funeral.
This last week as our team was at the cemetery, where the village was mourning the loss of and elderly woman. The deceased’s son asked me if I knew how to pray the rosary. I told him that I knew how to pray by talking to God and telling him what was on my mind and in my heart, but that I didn’t know the words to the rosary. Disappointed, he went on his way. It had to be the right words to make it worth anything.
The family asked around and found one woman who had a booklet from the priest and a rosary. They asked the government doctor to read it. He mindlessly droned the words while the women stood around, serious and watchful.
Meanwhile, the men who were helping dig the grave were getting more and more rowdy. Traditionally, the deceased’s family reward the helpers with Cokes, or if they can afford it, with beer. In this case the beer was being freely passed around and the drunk men were starting to exchange insults and a few punches. Two men in particular seemed to have it out for each other and were separated twice.
As the rosary went on and on, the women watched the speaker less and the crowd of men more. Drunkenness is something to fear in a village full of men who are frequently armed. Suddenly, one of the brawlers pulled a knife out of his shirt and attacked another. Some men wrestled the attacker away and barely escaped getting stabbed themselves in the chaos.
The funeral broke up as scared villagers ran away and headed for home. From our houses later, we saw that a small subdued crowd did eventually bury the woman in the late afternoon.
The doctors wrote the behavior off as a simple lack of respect and bad behavior. To me it seemed to have to do a great deal more with a worldview devoid of any hope. Only hope will drive out despair. Only true love will drive out fear. And only the truth of the Word of God will bring those things to Las Moras.