Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WAT Journals--Jan. 11

WAT Journals: Jan. 11

A little past midnight now so the fast has begun…a series of meetings and I am feeling clarified and confident. Also developing affection and respect already for several folks…I feel good. whole. loved. alive.


The first time I saw the White House was from behind a veil. I was standing front and center in formation with roughly 120 others in orange jumpsuits and black hoods representing the 173 men still being indefinitely detained at Guantanamo Bay. I learned, during the press conference transpiring in front of the White House, that only three of those 173 men have convictions against them. Three. And of the remaining, approximately 90 have been cleared by U.S. task forces as not presenting any danger nor having any cause for incarceration. Yet, they remain. Some have been there from the very beginning, nine years.
With our hoods on we could still see, though dimly. Even so, there were people from the community to guide us, “tree to your left—loose tiles ahead—there’s a downward step there—“ I thought about the men we represented whose hoods truly shrouded them in darkness; who were taken by strangers who did not guide them but systematically abused them physically and emotionally and psychologically. One of the things I heard that stung the most was that many of these men said that when they first learned they were in U.S. custody they were glad. They believed that in U.S. hands they would be treated with dignity. Then they were taken to Abu Ghraib. Then to Guantanamo.

At the end of the day we were not arrested. We did stand in front of the Departments of Justice, shivering in our boots as lovely large flakes of snow fell on and around us, standing solidly together nonetheless. We read the names of those still detained and spoke in unison, “We remember you.” This is a particularly poignant ritual to me as I imagine it is a devastating feeling to be forgotten in your suffering. How agonizing it must be to know that you are innocent, to know that your captors know you are innocent and yet you remain hidden from view, no just end in sight.

…This morning I woke up early after a scant night of sleep to be present for morning prayer. We ended with the Our Father (speaking it instead as “Our Creator” which I found quite lovely). Since last year’s fast two lines from that prayer have become increasingly poignant for me. I will share one here:

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

When I say those words it is with great humility and an accompanying prayer beseeching mercy. I am achingly aware that we have not forgiven those who’ve trespassed against us and deserve no such forgiveness. We have, instead, heaped trespass upon trespass. We have stolen lives, hidden humans away to be tortured and tormented in secret and then, instead of begging forgiveness, we have tried to justify our actions. This is a hard truth.

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