No Away: Prayer for Restorative Justice

IMG_8197Twice today I have been faced with an unusual visual: Trash cans, recycle bins, destroyed beyond repair, beyond use. Now, sometimes it takes 10 or 12 or 37 times for me to notice patterns – but today, this was unusual enough that by the second time the sight jumped out at me, I was asking, WHY?

Close on the heels of this question, the answer: Remembering Julia Butterfly Hill, and her famous comment, that there really is nowhere where we can throw things away TO. There is no away. It’s all still here in one form or another, and we fool ourselves to think otherwise, hiding our heads in the sand, ignoring the real issue.

Whether we’re throwing away used items, carbon emissions, what little remains of our virgin forests and ancient trees, our shadow sides, marginalized people – perhaps those who have committed crimes, from illegal crimes committed last week or thirty years ago to crimes like being young or being poor or growing old or being the “wrong” color or loving the “wrong” person or being unproductive in a materialistic society, or being one born in other places and times, from whom we distance ourselves immediately in pronoun, switching from us and our to them and they, those who don’t vote like us, don’t think like us, don’t worship like us, don’t dress like us, don’t act like us, “undesirables” in any way, shape, or form (and what a judgment that is!) – there is no away. And we will pay the consequences of this careless choice.

In fact, we already are – we see our societies crumbling around us, our families, our bodies, our minds, our souls, all wrapped inside the shattered remains of our natural environment, itself past the point of words to describe, so many of our furred and finned and feathered cousins gone forever, others leaving, never to return, in each silence-filled moment. The standing ones watch mutely in witness: So much they have seen, so much they have mourned. Even now they cry out: How can we not see what we’re doing? How can we not care? How can we block this out?

And once again, the truth: We can’t. We aren’t. We may think we are, but we experience this loss in every cell of our bodies, every feeling in our hearts, every thought of our minds. Not sleeping well lately? I don’t doubt it. There is no escaping this awareness, whether we attempt to do so consciously or unconsciously. And in some cases, we may feel the breeze of the approaching anvil long before it strikes, with hope perhaps in time to avert the blow.

There is only one way, and that is to restore – restore the web of humanity, restore the web of the soul, the web of health, of life, of light, bringing all back into the fold of safety and peace, the healing, helping, holding arms of love.

This is my prayer.  That we may step beyond mere punitive justice, punishing ourselves and each other for all the real and imagined wrongs we and our ancestors have committed, both consciously and unconsciously, known and unknown. Rather, may we come together in the spirit of restorative justice, seeking first to understand, and then, and only then, to make as right as possible the wrongs that pass before us, for all involved and affected, whether victim or perpetrator, family or community, country or countryside, with free will for all, and harm to none.

You see, when we look closely, we begin to realize that all are victims, and all are perpetrators. There is none so guilt-free that he or she may cast the first stone. And I would not call for justice, simply and purely justice. Justice in the sense of getting-what-we-deserve might likely see humanity wiped off the face of this planet, a cancerous growth quickly and summarily removed for the good of the whole, with as little thought as you give to that funny mole behind your left ear.

I would pray for mercy – that I might give it to others, that I might receive it from you. I would pray for each of us to look on all those around us and see the light within, true repentance, true caring, true goodness just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting for a chance to blossom, if we can ever step past our fears long enough to stop demanding “What’s WRONG with you?” and ask a question that comes from the heart: “What HAPPENED to you?” I would ask that we step beyond mere punishment, to enter an era of restoration, to see clearly, and act bravely. That all be returned home to its own doorstep, and that all be transformed, through our thoughts and actions, to forgiveness, compassion, and love, for ourselves, and for each other.  To mitigate, facilitate, to heal, to hold. To hold it together. To rebuild the web, one strand at a time.

Yes, this is my prayer for restorative justice. May all be whole, may all be healed, may all be free.

And so it is. _/\_

There is no away

———
(C) 2016 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
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