Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Praying With Our Feet -- and Our Magic Markers

"Budgets are moral documents."
-- Jim Wallis, Sojourners

In my Saturday morning post, I spoke of taking a Sabbath and not posting on the 20th.

My congregation was holding a weekend retreat at a center about an hour's drive away, and the JoyFamily drove there Saturday morning for a 24-hour getaway.

We needed the break, from the news and the protests and the computers. The week had been exhausting, days on end with insufficient sleep and way too much adrenaline.

However, the retreat also provided a safe space to go in deeper. With our friends, we were able to explore the moral dimensions of the budget proposal and the protests, in thoughtful conversation and in prayer.

I also brought a bunch of posterboard and a fistful of markers to offer an additional option for a craft project activity: making signs to highlight the Medicaid issue, to be conveyed to the press event on Sunday afternoon.

Several of the signs alluded to the moral implications of the budget-repair bill. I particularly liked the ones that said, "Don't deny a voice for the vulnerable." Two of those signs wound up on the wall right behind the heads of the speakers at the press event, in direct camera view.

But even more touching to me was a sign colored by a little fellow of the age of six, just two days older than Joy. For the first two years of Joy's life, our family did a daycare swap with this little guy's family, so he and she were daycare buddies up to the age of two. They've not been close lately, as he is on a typical developmental path and she is on a path all her own; but he really wanted to create a sign, and his mom traced the words "Protect Medicaid" for him to color and explained just a little bit that this was to help Joy and others like her.

His was the sign I chose to hold at the front of the room at the press event (held here by JoyDad on the bus on the way home.)

If you follow the online debate about Wisconsin's budget, or listen to certain newscasts, you will hear the protesters described as greedy, as rioters, possibly even as un-American.

I'd offer the personal view of protesters as people of peace and conscience and deep conviction, many of us as people of faith. I'm reminded of the children's book that was inspired by our congregation in 2005, Praying with our Feet, about taking peaceful, prayerful action for a peaceful world in the face of an unjust war. (The book is out-of-print but can still be acquired through various vendors at the link.)

We're praying in many ways this week. With our feet at the Capitol building. With our magic markers. With our letters to the editor and our calls and e-mails to our legislators.

Please add your prayers / thoughts / positive energies to ours, in any way you feel so moved.


AuntieS said...

"If you follow the online debate about Wisconsin's budget, or listen to certain newscasts, you will hear the protesters described as greedy, as rioters, possibly even as un-American."

I have seen several articles and news blurbs that have actually pointed out how very peaceful and orderly these protests have been. The police reports were very minimal with maybe one or two arrests and a warning or two. That is amazing and awe-inspiring to me. To have that many passionate people gathered, even inside the capitol building, and there are not fights erupting, no windows or valuable objects are being smashed, police aren't being called in with riot gear in full use. Anyone who can't see the protesters as American citizens exercising their rights is just not really watching what is happening. On a more selfish note, I am so glad that these protests are strong and passionate but peaceful and organized because I worry about the safety of my brother, sis-in-law, and my niece in the midst of these events. I sure don't want any of you to be hurt or trampled or something because of uncontrolled craziness and rage.
I am supporting you all and hoping that the protests bring about the results that are right for the citizens of Wisconsin and best for my family members!

JoyDad said...

We have taken Rose with us to a number of the protests. There have actually been a lot of kids at these events, and I don't think people would be bringing their kids if they thought it wouldn't be safe. In fact, Rose described her first rally as "fun!"

We've used the events as a civics lesson for Rose. I've talked with her quite a bit about our right to peaceable assembly, and how that is one of the core principles of our nation, going back to the founding fathers. I explained that there are a lot of places in the world where people don't have that right.

And we've definitely kept the emphasis on the "peaceable" part, even in the face of counter-demonstrators rallying on Saturday. Over 70,000 people were gathered around the capitol on Saturday, and there was not a single arrest!