I teach Sunday school to junior high kids. Today the students were trying to come up with a slogan for a blanket drive to provide comfortable bedding for the local family homeless shelter. It’s winter and the heating system in the old converted city hospital doesn’t work very well, if at all.
As they talked the kids came up with the slogan “Occupy Your Heart.” At the end of mass, 13 year old Gianni got up in front of the congregation with a hastily written note and a shaky voice, asked the people in the pews to “Occupy Their Hearts” with love and welcome the stranger, reminding them that “whatever you do for the least of my people that you do for me.” She asked for blanket donations for the families in the shelter. After church, many parishioners offered blankets.
I am blown away by what they did and said. The kids get this! They understand that to claim a place they need to occupy it. They may not understand it on an intellectual level, but they showed me that when they occupy their hearts with love fear falls away. And now I get it. It’s not bravery or courage that propels the success of OWS, it is love. When we occupy our hearts with love, fear flees and cannot stand against the power that emanates from the heart. The occupiers have taken a word that has historically been associated with destruction, hate, anger and oppression and have turned it into a word of hope. I believe that redefinition of the word Occupy happened from love.
Thank you Occupiers, for filling your hearts with love, and using that power to change the definition of a word and igniting the hope of change on a visceral level.
From these junior high kids I now understand how the occupiers at OWS can be beaten, abused, sprayed and come back stronger and bigger each time. I now understand how non-violence can defeat very powerful forces. How can the 1% and the structure that supports them stand against the united power of love? I now understand the strength of the occupiers. You do this because you love; you love your brothers and sisters in the tents; you love your community of fellow 99%; and you love your county and the promise that is the United States of America.
What did I learn today from junior high school students?
“Occupy your heart and change the world.”
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