This is what I heard, in the stillness of my heart. I would be sitting at a Starbucks across the road, watching and waiting. I would be sipping tea and reading a book, unobtrusively observing the crowds following Jesus, hanging on him, asking him for help. I would watch to see what would happen. Maybe after the crowds thinned out and things settled down, I would approach Jesus. I would ask him how he was, who he was. I would say that his life looked hard, and I wondered how that was for him.
And Bartimaeus? Yes, I would have wanted to reach out to him as well. But in the crowd? Nope. Not likely.
So that was where I was in that public scene. I most definitely was not part of the crowd of people, the public "hangers-on" in my mind, nor was I one of the disciples, committed to the mysterious journey that lay ahead. I also did not rush over, in this public arena, to help Bartimaeus myself. I watched by the side of the road. Safe, private. Curious, moved, but uncommitted. Not going to be part of the crowd.
I have been taking baby steps away from Starbucks toward the crowds, toward the beggar. I have been taking tiny steps toward being part of it all, accepting that I won't lose who I am in the crowd and that I might even learn something or have something to contribute myself. And realizing that maybe voices raised together in a crowd can mean something. So I went to Blair Mountain this summer and today I went downtown with the Occupy Pittsburgh group.
The sign above kind of sums up today. The common factor among the people who were at the Occupy Pittsburgh march was the "commons" - all eyes were on humanity, the larger good, not on the bottom line. Poverty, race, education and health care cuts, the huge costs of war, student debt, environmental destruction - today I heard voices raised for people, not dollars. Justice and equity, fairness, empathy, accountability and responsibility. And you know what? It is all connected.
There were babies in strollers, students from grade school through college, union members, older graying seasoned protesters, clergy, veterans. I got to see my Kalie and her family. Everyone was respectful, kind, generous. There was joy in the group, along with a sense of frustration that things have come to this point. There was a feeling of - "Enough. No more." I felt privileged to be part of the group, to be among the crowd.
This is what democracy looks like.