Today I will walk in silence—
The silence of the streets
The silence of the grave.
Today I will walk in silence
For silence helps me remember
What I might otherwise forget:
A wife, a mother, a friend waiting for a bus, dying on the street;
A man so filled with grief he cannot even speak;
A corpse unclaimed, a friend unburied, a sadness unrelieved.
Today I will walk in silence,
For silence is also the language of awe and respect and honor.
Awe—that’s what I feel when I hear the stories of commitment and hope
and experience the warmth of friendship from those who live on the streets.
And how but in silence can I honor and respect those who have died
and those who live in homelessness?
Today we walk in silence–
Each of us carrying in our heart the faces of friends who have died on the streets,
Joining with one another in our mourning and in our grief.
The route we take is one familiar to us and to those whose lives we mourn today:
Walk straight down first
Take a left on Lomas and a right on Broadway.
Soon you’ll find yourself at Noon-day waiting for the noon-day meal.
Follow Mountain over to third and take a right;
St. Martin’s is just up the street.
Or walk on a block and head down fourth
You’ll find your way to the Cathedral and Lisa Perko’s desk.
Go another block and there you are taking a meal with the Methodists.
Keep on going—it’s not far to the Rescue Mission or to Brother Ralph.
This is the path our friends have walked,
These are the steps those we mourn have taken.
Today we walk with them in silence and in solidarity
But today our silence takes another form as well:
Our silence echoes the silence our friends have received;
Our silence calls for compassion and cries out for justice;
Our silence counters the silence of indifference those we love have met;
Our silence demands we find another way to live together in our shared humanity.
Today we walk in silence you and I.
Our footfalls marking the way of those we love–
Each step we take a step for justice and compassion.
Today we walk in silence—a deafening kind of silence.