Last weekend, our parish set up an enormous graffiti-board at a festival called Flowermart that we knew was going to draw a couple thousand people. (Jim Quigley blogged about the idea here: http://stalbansdc.org/the-daily-cup/from-bones-to-hope/.) What happened was pretty magical:
People of all ages came to join in: little children, old people, even people who needed us to write for them. People who wrote in English, French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Korean, Arabic, Latin, and Greek. The little ones hoped for puppies, Legos, and “cadny.” Several kids hoped for an end to poverty, or that the homeless would find homes. The grown-ups wrote “peace,” “gun control,” “healing, “release,” “new life,” “a cure for breast cancer and for all cancer.” “Equal opportunity” appeared, as did “to get a job.” “$15/hour and a union” was near “love and dachshunds.” A man from a 12-step group hoped for “serenity and sobriety.” People posed for pictures next to their post, then came back, hours later, to read what others had written. Passers-by took pictures. A couple people offered to make donations; they were visibly confused when we explained that this was a gift. “Why are you doing this?” they asked, over and over. And yet, they chose to join in.
And then there were the conversations. Cathy, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sarah’s mom, who hoped for a healthy, full-term granddaughter (after her daughter had suffered two miscarriages). (Pray for them both.) The cheeky guy in a wheelchair who looked at me pointedly and said,”I hope for help to get to Flowermart.” I abandoned my post and pushed him up the hill.
The most moving thing was that when we asked people what was in their hearts, we revealed the beauty in one another.
And then there’s this: last week, I wrote about Glennon Doyle Melton using her blog to raise money for Syrian refugees. The day I wrote about, The Compassion Collective raised $380,000. In donations that were capped at $25/person. If everyone gave the maximum amount, that’s more than a million people reaching out to help strangers in need. Probably, not everyone did give the maximum amount, so that’s even more.
We have been hearing a lot these days about “those people,” by which speakers indicate anyone who is not like themselves: different race, different gender, different values, lives in a different part of the country. Well, more than a million of Those People reached out from their living rooms to lift up the lives of strangers. They gave their money and the prayers of their heart. And when you ask Those People what they hope for, they write: peace, kindness, compassion, a world without violence, pizza, new life, for someone to love me.
Personally, I am proud to be one of Those People. Maybe we can even start a movement: “I’m one of Those People.” Will you join us?