Monday, April 1, 2013

Everyone Carried the Cross at Escuela Caribe

  On Good Friday, we took turns hauling a cross up the cacita to the peak of our part of the mountain. We started with the highest ranking staff member, the director, Phil Redwine, and concluded with the zero levelers, all according to house. (To this day I despise hierarchies of any kind). We'd stop along the way at intervals and different staff members would read what I now realize were sections from the Stations of the Cross.  
   Odd fact: you can actually buy Stations of the Cross themed jewelry- I debated over a bracelet at my favorite Orlando vintage store last year, but decided against it- didn't want to creep Child-Thing out.
   I took part in two different Good Friday celebrations.  This picture is from my second, in March 1991.  Allison P. has assumed the cross.  Mike H., Director of Discipline (he actually used a strap called "Mr. Brown"), is to her left.  Phil is on her right.  We are about two-thirds of the way up the cacita- Hyuck House is in the background.
   At the top the cross was placed in a hole that had previously been dug. We prayed, then Kathy Jo sang, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" And we all joined in- "Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble..." At that time, it did, because it was this glorious bonding experience, the whole school assembled on the peak at sunrise. I remember thinking that if every day at Escuela Caribe were like Good Friday, when we were united to worship or help others with service projects (once we built a school way back in the campo) I could understand why we were there.
  But it's not like I focus on this all the time, just when anniversaries come up, and I remember for two years I hauled a cross up the cacita to honor Christ, but then on the same day witnessed or received abuse. And I think of how the staff never realized their lack of compassion was a violation of what Jesus considered to be the greatest commandment, to treat others as you want to be treated.  And that can lead me down a whole rabbit hole of the cognitive dissonance in mainstream Christianity-unless I stop myself, short-circuit that thought with this one-    it was all so weird...


  1. I did this the Easter I was down there. I thought it was unusual, but I enjoyed the singing and the sunrise. I also enjoyed the staff helping us to lug it up the mountain. It seemed for a moment there was some normalcy. No staff member were pressuring us to move faster, or stay within arms reach of a staff member on this morning. There was no asking to enter any rooms as we were outside. There was no hostility in that moment, only singing and helping one another. If only every moment had been like that morning sunrise service.

  2. Don't get me wrong- the first time I found it thrilling--- I have a whole chapter on it---and that was pretty much the way I summed it up:)...I loved it at least until three days later on Easter after the service when I watched a kid have to do pushups in front of the entire school with two other kids on his back. I remember being shocked because BG, a staff member, cried. Hence my focus on their lack of compassion.
    Still, even having been raised religious, I found the whole worship experience down there extreme. Before E.C.. I never knew people personally who spoke in tongues or lifted their arms in praise and worship. One friend of mine had been raised atheist, and I constantly tried to explain the nuances between what I was used to back home (which was more extreme than average) vs. there, which took everything to the next level.