‘How do you define nonviolence?” – a prompt from my retreat in November.
I contemplated this question between bites of cobb salad as I scanned the sweating bodies in the packed campus dining hall. The occupants at a narrow table near me caught my attention – a small, mousey haired girl on one side and the boy who was quite obviously in love with her sat opposite. I was taken with the way that he looked at her when he thought no one was looking; total tenderness and vulnerability. I kept randomly scanning the room, hoping I wouldn’t catch the eye of the couple and have to do some awkward explaining – ‘Sorry. Uh, just admiring the shape of your skull.’ – and what I found mirrored in everyone was the exact same vulnerability. All of us, no matter our personal details, want to be loved and accepted for who we are when nobody is looking. Verbalized or not we all wish for someone whom we can be vulnerable and tender with.
So, what does that have to do with the Broken Jesus (Il Fratturato Gesù)?
When we are alone or think that no one is looking we feel safe enough to remove the masks that we feel the need to wear to keep ourselves safe (others of us like to pick our noses and eat it in the car.. I see you little brunette stopped at the red light on Main St). We stop being the people that ourselves and others think we should be or want to be. We stop keeping people and events at arm’s length. We stop hiding the hurt, failure, anger, loneliness, helplessness and we be the person that few, if any, see. This is the broken, beaten and bleeding Jesus that resides in us all.
Alright. Now what about this nonviolence bit (nonviolenza)?
I think a fundamental of nonviolence is the recognition of the Broken Jesus in us all. Really engaging and remembering that we are all hurting and vulnerable . If we can remember that, then we will respond with the same tenderness and vulnerability that the young man was showing the girl across the table from him – the tenderness that is Love. The tenderness and love displayed when we hold the bleeding Christ in our own arms.