Friday, February 23, 2007

Lenten Discipline

As many of you know, Lent started on Wednesday. On Monday, I went to the hardware store and bought a sledgehammer. I've been thinking a lot lately about all the forces of colonialism, racism, sexism, etc, that seem to rule our world. It seems to me that most of them are due for a smashing. I'm not sure whether this smashing is best done with poetry or ideology, with sermons or with direct action- but clearly smashing is what's called for. I bought a hammer small enough to put in my backpack, so that I wouldn't scare folks on the bus. But it's also heavy enough to make me remember it's there, and to remember just why I'm going to seminary.

It feels like it's a naive kind of thing to do; carrying around a sledgehammer in the hopes that this will help me remember to smash systems of oppression. It's also a more violent metaphor than I've been using lately. But I've been reading folks like Albert Memmi and Frantz Fanon, who argue somewhat convincingly for the use of revolutionary violence. So, as I think about that, it's good to have something heavy to carry around.

Come Easter, we'll see.

ps- In Chapel on Wednesday, I set fire to NAFTA for ashes to smear on our foreheads. It's important to remember how I carry my privilege.

1 comment:

gleen said...

David --

I think that you express the same spirit that got to me at last year's soa watch vigil.

I had made a bunch of ~12" crosses out of white foam posterboard and Elmer's Glue. They were for those on the Oberlin bus who wanted to carry one.

There was a lot to think about during the two or three hour procession. Tom Fox (CPT) and Brad Will (Indy camerman killed in Mexico) were just two of the recent martyrs in my heart. The names of all the children, women, "presente". The Iraq war. Memories of the four nuns. Pictures of dead and maimed children. I raised the cross hundreds of times.

For whatever reason, the feel of carrying the cross in my hand took on meaning and significance. Then I grabbed the top of the cross in my hand, like carrying a dagger, like preparing to stab someone or something. Anger, sadness, confusion were all like sisters inside me dancing slowly around.

When I drew near the gate, the crowd was two or eight people deep, partly due to the restricted space created by new fences on the sides, so I walked on. On the far side, the ground sloped away from the road, and there were fewer people, and there was one lone spot. I took it. A young woman sat next to me and was actually sitting facing uphill in my direction.

I knelt there. Thousands of crosses were hanging in the fence. I had intended to simply place my cross there as well and say a prayer, but I was holding it like a dagger. It took only the tinyest impulse to cause me to thrust the cross-become-weapon into the fence along with the obligatory lunge and cry -- "Aaaahhh!!" I then leaned the rest of the way over with my head touching the ground and started crying, unashamedly, uncontrolled.

The poor girl next to me. I don't know what she thought, but she tried to comfort me almost immediately. Bless her heart, but I just felt like crying. Sometimes it's just better to let people continue crying for a while. I don't think I finished because I still cry when I think of the whole thing. And I cry because there are more things to think about every day. I've cried a lot these past few years.

So hold on to that cross ... whatever way you feel you should hold it!