The first of our four Good Friday Walk reflections comes from Dr. Ruben Habito, a professor who teaches interreligious perspectives in spirituality and mysticism at Perkins School of Theology at SMU. Dr. Habito is the author of several books: Experiencing Buddhism: Ways of Wisdom and Compassion (Orbis Books, 2005); Living Zen, Loving God (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2004); Healing Breath: Zen Spirituality for a Wounded Earth (MKZC Publications, 2001); Originary Enlightenment: Tendai Hongaku Doctrine and Japanese Buddhism (International Institute for Advanced Buddhist Studies, 1996); and Ministry and Theology in Global Perspective: Contemporary Challenges to the Church, co-edited with Don Pittman and Terry Muck (Wm. Eerdmans and Co., 1996).
I'd like to offer some pointers for us to experience in a more enhanced way the significance of this event that we are participating in together.
This is Good Friday. Today we have an important image in our mind that you all came here to relive. So the first question I would like to offer for us to ask ourselves is, Who are we walking with in this Good Friday Walk? Who are we walking with in this way of the cross on Good Friday?
The cross is a symbol of violence, the violence that happens to us because we are vulnerable creatures. The violence that nature can bring to us, but also, most importantly, the violence that human beings bring upon other human beings. We are all victims of that violence. And there was a man two thousand years ago who bore the brunt of that violence in his body, and the violence continues now. This is indicated in the signs we are carrying. The 25,000-30,000 children under the age of 5 who die daily because of hunger or malnutrition and related causes, about 11 to 12 million per year, and that goes on. The people who are displaced from their homes because of threats to their lives because of military violence, or because of political, social, economic issues-those who are called refugees. People who are not regarded as human beings by their fellow human beings for many different reasons-race, color of skin, religion, or sexual orientation, they are on the cross today.
So we are invited to breathe with them and walk with them with each step. A couple of suggestions as we walk from station to station. This is a meditation, so as we do so, two points I would like to offer for our own attention. First, the breath. As we breathe in and breathe out, let us recall that each breath is a gift, from the same source that gave us this life. In our Christian vocabulary, that is espiritus sanctus. Espiritus is from espirare, to breathe, or the ruah of the Hebrew language, that breath that makes the earth what it is, the breath that all of our fellow living, sentient beings receive. So let us pay attention to that breath and we will experience more profoundly with whom we are breathing. And look at the signs again to see, to get indications of who they are we are breathing with and walking with.
Secondly, let us also pay attention to our steps. As we step, each step is a way of giving our bodily presence and walking with all of those that we want to represent: the 46 million without health care, those who are sick, those who lack access to clean water, the unemployed and underemployed, not just in the US but throughout the world. Let us have that global scenario in our minds and in our hearts as we walk each step.
And thirdly, and the last point I would like to offer as we go, last night, many of us may have joined in the Eucharistic celebration commemorating the institution of that precious celebration that we continue every Sunday and the central words offered there are, "This is my body given for you." That's an aspect that I would also like to offer as we walk together, perhaps in groups of two or three: "This is my body given for you." As Jesus offered his body for all of us, we are also invited to take that and resonate with that and make those words our own. This is my body given for you. For whom? For "I was in prison and you did not visit me," the one in 100 incarcerated. Those who are denied food stamps. Those who are in pain because of the way they are treated by their fellow human beings. Let us listen to them and respond: This is my body given for you. So I would like to recommend that we walk in that meditative way, so that we can experience the significance of this event. And I thank all of the organizers of this event and everyone who is here together so that we can really share in the bonding that this event on the cross brings to us.