The last few months have been deeply painful for anyone who believes that, as the name of this blog suggests, we are all just here to walk each other home. Politicians preach racial, ethnic, and religious profiling, police are trained to see our streets as was zones, private citizens in the United States insist on their "right" to arm themselves with military-grade weaponry, the people of Great Britain separate themselves from the European Union in protest over too many layers of unresponsive government, and random acts of violence tear cities apart in the name of, what? ISIS? Homophobia? Generalized fear and anxiety? We seem to live in dark and fearful times.
The challenge for people of faith and good will is to figure out how to respond. There are many possible options, among them withdrawal, prayer, social action, political activism. Each has its benefits, of course. Withdrawal at least protects the heart and soul from the daily assaults of violence and fear-mongering, and withholds from the provocateur the reward of a response, either of fear or of sympathy. Withdrawal may limit the spread of evil in the short run, but it does not promote the good. Prayer is a powerful tool in the hands and hearts of believers, especially prayer that promotes the conversion of perpetrators, and reconciliation with victims. Even more powerful is the kind of prayer that effects deep transformation of the inward life of the pray-er, the one who prays. Social and political action are necessary elements in the healing of the world, but without confronting our own potential for anger and conflict, our efforts will drain us, and ultimately come to not very much.
While I have chosen to ground my spiritual practice in contemplation, and live in a hermitage, I remain committed to the principle that companionship, compassion, and love are the only things that can heal the world. To be a companion to black people, gay, lesbian, and differently-gendered people, Muslim people, to whoever has been cast aside, wounded, and rejected by others, this is the Great Commandment of Christ, and as far as I can see, the only practice that has the power to heal the world's wounds.
Black Lives Matter. The lives of the poor, the sick, the suffering, the oppressed matter. These are the ones we are called to walk with, to live with, to stand with. Only in companionship and compassion can we make a lasting difference. Walk with me. Let me walk with you.