Day four of the fast is nearly complete. The day was so full; it’s difficult to know where to begin. After our morning meeting we waited for a nurse who didn’t come and then left to vigil at the White House. That seems like such a long time ago. I don’t remember what I was thinking. Mostly, I was listening. More poems were read as well as our reasons for being there. This was followed by a march to the DOJ which we processed around and then vigiled in front of for about twenty minutes. From there we went to the Senate Hart building for a “ghost walk.” This involves several people in orange jumpsuits walking meditatively through the building, not interacting with those around them, specters of those whose lives are hidden from view. During and before this time others had been lobbying in their Senators offices, now we were “lobbying” in the halls, with a point person to drop off letters and share information with those who asked.
At the DOJ vigil I had held a placard with the image of a man in a pointed black hood and sackcloth being tortured by electric shock. It was a photo from a U.S. detention center. I thought about this man, about his captors; what would it take for each of them to be healed? It seems so impossible. Yet, I continued to make my small, shuffling, steps of hope. I also kept returning to what Carmen had said about Jesus and Moses during our morning reflection. Their key parallel, he believes, is that both argue with God on behalf of humanity. There’s something so penetrating and stunning about this idea to me. I’ve yet to fully process it. But I considered the rag tag tribes Moses was shepherding, and I considered the masses of mixed up humans on the earth presently. I considered how far astray all of us are from righteousness, from love—still more ready for sacrifice than mercy, and usually the sacrificing of another before ourselves. I wondered if Jesus feels a sickening sense of disappointment, of betrayal. Is he wounded repeatedly? No longer from physical beating but a broken heart? Is he dismayed by the behavior of those for whom he intervened?
The gospel reading this morning was the story of the friends who bring their paralytic companion to Jesus for healing. I am struck in this passage by the audacity of these friends. There is despair in the circumstances of their life—a friend crippled, a crowd that will not be moved, a Healer who is inaccessible, not to mention political and social upheaval. Hope is delivered to the scene by attitudes and actions that defy resignation to the situation. These friends display a willingness to confront an obdurate mass, to dismantle obstacles (in the form of a roof) that separates them from their goal, to release their friend to the unknown with hope and faith that the impossible will be made manifest. In this story I find cause for hope in what humans are capable of when compelled by compassion. I want to believe that our unconventional acts, our disruption of the status quo that envelopes the majority; our attempts at dismantling borders that block us from recognizing that we are also “them,” are acts of compassion that lead to healing.