Journey to Justice, One

Small Steps into Big Issues

Kona, Hawaii; April 2008

I sat in the small room, tears running down my face, sobbing and convulsing with the pain of heartbreak. I skipped lunch to sit in this state, unable to think of eating as my emotions plummeted. It was the first time I had ever truly fasted.

Isaiah 58: 6-7:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

I had come into this prayer room unplanned, after a morning of class about the devastation of AIDS in Africa. I knew the statistics before the class session, but something had pierced my heart. I could not handle it. I could not continue on with my life as usual while this death was haunting me.

The speakers, who had dedicated their lives to spreading awareness and teaching, didn’t come with the intent to destroy my perfect Hawaiian day. Nor did they come bearing pictures of broken bodies, war, blood, the expected symbols of death. They came with one word: Preventable.

AIDS is preventable. The deaths caused by AIDS related illness are preventable. A continent suffering from loss of parents, loss of children and loss of life is a preventable suffering.

I heard the truth and I broke.

I was slotted to make a presentation after lunch, demonstrating a simple, non-media teaching for villages and those that needed to know how to stop the spread of the worst kind of killer – one that had been taking over their story.  But, I couldn’t go on.

Just before I found myself in broken sobs, I stepped up to the professor and asked to be excused from the presentation.

My eyes had begun to water as I barely said, “I just can’t do it. I won’t make it through.” She saw the heartbreak across my face and understood. It was the heartbreak that had ushered her into a life of service and developing understandable programs for those she cared about in an effort to give them a chance.  She knew the look.

In that small room, I knelt. Messy and unconcerned with time or hunger, something bigger hanging over me as I sought one ounce of belief that change was possible. I pleaded, not knowing the proper words or specifics to ask for. I pleaded for a new future for those suffering. I pleaded for the pain in my heart to stop. I pleaded for the rawness to continue so I didn’t slip back into apathy. I pleaded for a change . . .

In an effort to record and remember my own journey into the justice issues of the world, I am taking each piece of heart-wrenching realization and compiling them. More to come.


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