I like to think about the giants who have come before us – the giants whose shoulders we stand on – those that laid this ground work of seeking justice for us. A litany comes to mind: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta King, Servant of God Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Thomas Merton, Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us.
A friend shared a story on her account recently about people before us exchanging letters before ever meeting. And it makes me think about the relationships among these greats that started over letter writing. Yesterday I learned that Thomas Merton and Dr. MLK, Jr. were set to make a retreat mere days after MLK’s assassination. Dorothy Day traveled West to meet Cesar Chavez and offer support and solidarity for fieldworkers. The connections to the global struggle for justice are everywhere.
I think about the work for justice today and the relationships of solidarity I have made over Instagram. I joked that learning about the letter writing made me feel less creepy about calling these people friends even though I’ve never met them, but I have spent hours with them on Instagram, Voxer, and Slack. Social media can be a dumpster-fire-time-suck, yes, but I sense that the Holy Spirit is at work here, too. The Internet has offered me community, solidarity, and consolation in the midst of pandemics – a pandemic of injustice, a pandemic of loneliness, a pandemic of disease. This space has helped me persevere as I limp along – exhausted, angry, and tired – maybe the same way these letters exchanged by the greats helped them find energy to keep going, often feeling isolated and alone.
I’m thankful for these friends. I am thankful for those that came before us that started the work that we must now take up to do our part to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. The work of justice must happen in community and it’s okay that, right now, this community is virtual. But oh what joy it brings me to think about when we get to meet face-to-face and embrace and make a retreat together – all for the good work of justice.
May we remember and honor the saints and the workers every day. May we take up the fight for justice and find respite in these communities.
To read Dorothy Day’s account of the pictured encounter with Cesar Chavez and Coretta Scott King click here.