Since I was arrested and subsequently detained as a prisoner of conscience, I have had moments of deep anguish. The realities I have encountered while in prison, in the context of a harshly repressive society, have brought angst deep in my battered heart. In these moments one is but a breath away from despair, like a flickering candle exposed to the wind. During these dark nights of my soul, I am not too sure whether I still manage to cling on to hope. I cry out to the Lord, but there is nothing but a desolate darkness. Hopelessness brings a bleak scenario to our lives, indeed.
Just recently such a moment caught up with me after a series of tragic events and disappointments. Three young men, one the brother of a former detainee, were summarily executed by the military and buried in one shallow grave. The military authorities claimed through the controlled press that the men were rebels killed during an encounter with the soldiers. In fact they were kidnapped and tortured before they were murdered.
Another tragedy took place, this time on the high seas. Close to a dozen churchworkers were to attend a pastoral meeting on another island. Three of them were religious women who took turns responding to our needs here in prison and who were always around to offer compassion and solidarity. In order to give flesh to their option for the poor, they traveled by boat instead of taking the plane. It was still the typhoon season. They perished in the sea, and the search for their bodies was futile. Without the bodies, the mourning was doubly painful.