Tracy L. Barnett
Sr. Pilar Chagoya Mingüer, of the Servants of the Holy Spirit, is a practicing dentist, licensed attorney and longtime advocate for social justice. Three years ago, she teamed up with Fr. Lionel Cárdenas in the Social Projection of Faith Program to promote interest in the Oaxaca Diocese where social programs had been a low priority.
A set of mysterious petroglyphs lie at the heart of the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé religion and written language — and those petroglyphs now lie at the bottom of a stagnant, foul-smelling reservoir. The flooding caused by the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project nearly three years ago constitutes an ongoing violation of their religious and cultural rights, say Ngäbe-Buglé leaders, in addition to causing widespread damage to orchards, farmland and fishing that the communities depended on for food and livelihood. Sr. Edia "Tita" López of the Sisters of Mercy agrees.
For 10 days in the tropical rainforests of Darién and the urban landscape of Panama City, scientists and academics converged with theologians, sisters, writers and spiritual seekers to explore the places where ecology, spirituality and science intersect in the context of the web of life. Now that I'm back home in Mexico, Panama lingers in my memory.
The Panama Canal, the highlight of our last day, was a study in contradictions after the full immersion in the natural world of Darién. In the context of the Web of Life, I think beyond this place and this moment, where 3,000 people will visit with their cameras and iPhones and take selfies in front of the moving machines. I think of the 30,000 people who died in the creation of this canal. I think of the mountains moved, the thousands of acres of forests flooded and wetlands drained, and the millions of gallons of fresh water being flushed into the sea with the movement of every ship.