29 July 2004

Journal Reflections, Calcutta

Having seen a dying person crumpled in a heap--
curled in a protective ball,
dirty, naked, starved, old, abandoned,
trampled,
oppressed to death--
right on the sidewalk;
I move down the streets and see out of the corner of my eye
a piece of mudied burlap in the gutter
or a gray bag of cement lying next to a wall,
or trash piled in a dark alley,
and for an instant fear that it is yet another
who has died un-ceremoniously,
who has died alone and filthy,
who has died no person to comfort them.
How horrifying that such a thought should ever occur,
more so
that such a reality should be--
for our mothers and fathers,
grandmothers and grandfathers,
brothers and sisters,
sons and daughters.
They are not a piece of trash
and should never resemble one
but do,
should never be discarded as such
but are.

You died on the cross so that they might wash their garments white
in your cleansing blood
and dance on the streets of gold
with beautiful, fed, disease-free bodies;
with faces radiant with your glory,
with songs of praise on their lips.
May our worship of you never forget them
May our lives be lived in such a way
that your Kingdom come
to those who die in gutters
and sewers,
on train platforms.

And by the river where they have come crawling
to try to wash themselves clean
but never reach the water.
Open our eyes, open our hearts.
Blessed,
blessed,
blessed are the poor in spirit.

For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

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