ARIZONA/SONORA REFLECTION: Three boxes of crosses

June 12, 2004

ARIZONA/SONORA REFLECTION: Three boxes of crosses

by Doug Pritchard

What is a border? A line on a map. A 14-foot wall between the cities of
Douglas, Arizona (USA) and Agua Prieta, Sonora (Mexico). A few strands of
wire running for miles over the sandy desert outside these cities. A cause
of death for increasing numbers of migrants.

This week another six migrants died in Cochise County in southeastern

Juan Manuel Guerrero Diaz, 40, Sofia Beltran Galicia, 22, and Socorro Ayala
Beltran, 40, died of dehydration while walking through the desert in 100
degF heat. What is it like to die of thirst? No saliva left to wet your
lips. No liquid left to excrete your body's toxins. No tears left to cry. Is
there blood left to bleed?

Three as-yet-unidentified men also died when a truck carrying twenty
migrants overturned while traveling at high speed just north of the border.
What is it like to hit the pavement at 75 mph? Was death instantaneous or
was it slow? What hopes and dreams lie shattered with those bodies?

These children of God were remembered in a prayer vigil at the border on
June 8, 2004, organized by Healing Our Borders, a Douglas based ministry to
migrants. They have led such vigils every week for the past three and a half
years. In this week's vigil, three CPTers joined five persons from the local

The group began by walking from Douglas to the border post. Every few feet
someone held aloft a wooden cross with the name of a border crosser who had
died in the area since the vigils began, and called out that name. The rest
responded with "Presente" as the cross was placed on the roadside. The line
of 100 crosses stretched for a quarter mile up to the border. Motorists
passed slowly, looking at the crosses. Two pedestrians walked along the line
of crosses reading every name. Were they looking for a particular one? Did
they find it?

During the concluding prayer and reflections, Rev. Mark Adams said, "This
afternoon I remembered how we started this campaign with the first cross.
Now we have three boxes of crosses and it is getting heavy."

Grania Marcus responded, "I wish our government leaders could feel the
weight of these crosses. I wish they could feel the weight on the families
who have lost loved ones. I wish they could feel what it is be thirsty in
the desert."

"Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and
gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and
welcomed you?--And he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did
it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to
me' " (Matt. 25:37-38, 40.)