by Laurie Gudim
(Feast Day of St. Aelred)
When I think of being in solidarity with people, I think of Red Rover. In that game, a line of people links arms and then invites someone from the other team to “come over”. If you hold on to your neighbors tightly enough, the attacker cannot break through your line, and he or she then winds up joining your team and becoming one of you.
I like to think about holding on to my neighbors tightly enough and not letting go. We begin with those we can reach. My friends and relatives – the people who live on the same street as I do – the people waiting in line with me at the bank – those who live under the bridge down the street from me – these are most obviously my neighbors. Then there are the people whose lives have touched those my life has touched. My friend’s acquaintances in Haiti – my neighbor’s son who lives in California – the bridge-dwelling family’s friends at the Mission – these are also my neighbors. And there are those whose lives are touched by those people. We all form a line, holding on to one another, tight, as tightly as we can, so no one can break us apart.
In conversation, in open and nonjudgmental listening, we link our arms, we link our lives, in love. We learn one another’s joys and sorrows. We find out what sort of help we each need and when we most need it. We learn what sort of troubles we each have and when we are beset by them. We learn about bullying and harassment. We show up in times of danger.
If nobody breaks through our line, then what? Maybe the others will come and join us in our line, and we can hold on as tightly to them as we hold onto each other.
Jesus says the greatest commandment is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.” We must not forget what he is telling us here. In our lives there is nothing more important than doing these things.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.