When you did it for the least of these … Matthew 25:40.
I was thinking about the possibility of a strike by the drivers of CCTA here in Burlington and listening to an album I purchased recently – some nuns singing religious songs. They were singing “God of Mercy and Compassion“. It’s February – Black History Month – and as I sat at the computer I was thinking about the lingering tentacles of racism. I came upon this Youtube clip from the 1980’s movie “The Long Walk Home“, starring Whoopi Goldberg. With iTunes playing …God of mercy and compassion, look with pity upon me. Father, let me call you “Father” – Tis your child that returns to thee. Jesus Lord, I ask for mercy; let me not implore in vain. All my sins, I now detest them; never will I sin again.
… I was simultaneously watching and listening to the clip from the movie – black folk facing off against white privilege. They wanted a decent seat on the bus. And amidst the shouts of the white crowd, the African Americans were singing a Spiritual – “I’m Goin’ Through“:I’m walkin’ with Jesus … And I’m goin’ through. I’ll pay’ the price, whatever others do. I’m goin’ through. …I started in Jesus, and I’m goin’ through.
The movie clip and the old Catholic Hymn were playing at the same time. It was a kind of Charles Ives moment, with three distinct audio experiences creating the consonant dissonance of competing claims – one in the form of the shouted demand for continued privilege, the other in the form of the song of the spiritual coming from deep in the soul, and the third a chanting hymn of repentance.
So powerful was this moment for me that I had to do it again – I started the hymn over and at the same time I hit the “play” button on the video. The experience was even stronger the second time through.
Who is it in our society that has to walk? Who are the people who have no choice? I take the bus because I want to. Many take the bus because they have to. And some would never take the bus – they have no need to do so. Which camp are you in? Jesus knows that those who have the least always have the longest walk. Some among us have been walking for generations; and some are just beginning their walk now.
Pray that bus drivers will be listened to, and that they will balance their wants with others’ needs. They deserve a fair wage and decent working conditions. So many who depend on those buses are among the ‘least’ when it comes to life’s blessings. Without that ride it’s a long, long walk.
And for those of us who are privileged such that we have options and choices in life, pray that we will hear the words of that old hymn of repentance – All my sins, I now detest them. Never will I sin again.
With prayers for a blessed Tuesday …