Lately, there’s this phrase I can’t seem to get out of my mind.
I think it may be the start, at least, of an answer to the question I raised in my last post – this question of “standing in solidarity.” The phrase is from a prayer that a friend shared with me when I first arrived in Tansen. Hunger for justice to those who are fed. Recently I’ve found myself perseverating on this phrase. It insists itself over and over again in my brain as I walk to and from work, heading home or to the canteen for meals. Hunger for justice to those who are fed. In these post-earthquake days, it’s taken on new meaning as I continue to recall the faces of men and women I met in Gorkha – the severe-yet-gentle faces of villagers hungry for bread, faces that remain with me in heart and mind. Hunger for justice to those who are fed.
You may recognize this as a reference to one of Jesus’ Beatitudes – the one about “those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” – which is, of course, just another word for justice. Undoubtedly an important quality for us all, living as we are in a world where resources are distributed with wild inequity. It’s a phrase that describes many of you reading this right now, you who pour our your resources – physical, financial, spiritual, relational – to bring shalom, fullness of life, to individuals and communities around you.
Yet it strikes me that there’s another aspect to this phrase, a slight twist that offers a somewhat different emphasis. I wonder if it can also be taken to mean that we-who-are-fed can actually give hunger as a means of justice – an act of solidarity through fasting, an offering of ourselves through prayer, a means of becoming uniquely present to the lived experience of others.
I won’t say much more about this here, except to share a few resources that may be helpful in exploring this concept further. But I do wish to leave you (and myself) with the idea that the immensely private and personal action of prayerful fasting may actually be capable of achieving profound effects – not only in our own lives, but also in the world around us. Maybe it can even bring healing to a world that, despite our deepest yearnings for solidarity, so often feels far beyond our reach…