Walk for Hunger

So I did the Walk for Hunger on Sunday, and was able to raise $575, thanks to the generosity of my family, friends, and friends' friends. Thanks very much to all who helped out! This is a picture of me at the end.

My BF joined me for the last third of the walk, but I was by myself for the first two-thirds, bopping along to opera, showtunes, and some quebecoise music on my iPod. We had beautiful weather, there were 43,000 walkers, and overall it was a good day. I also found myself finding some faith in the natural, or at least potential, goodness of people again. (Calvinists, watch out! Catholic optimism ahead.) While a large portion of the walkers at these things are junior high and high school students who have been loaded onto busses and dragged downtown, often against their will, there will still tons of people whose stickers proclaimed that this was their fourth, tenth, or fifteenth walk (or higher, in some cases). There were old people for whom this was not just a long-ish day exercise-wise, as it was for me and most of the people my age and younger; this was a real sacrifice for them, and yet in singles, couples, and groups, they were trudging along towards home. And even if the walk was just a last-minute completion of some public service or confirmation hours, I think there was still something sacramentally objective, ex opere operato, as it were, of their bodies making a twenty mile walk on behalf of the poor. They might not have any conscious memories in ten years as to what they did or why, but this walking, and particularly if it can be repeated a few times, will help their bodies remember that doing good for others is part of what human bodies do when they're healthy, when they're functioning properly and flourishing.

I also regained a tiny bit of faith in the American project. Patriotism is something that we good lefty Catholics are quite suspicious of these days; it's easy to be suspicious when so many of our fellow citizens' patriotism is being manipulated to make a small group of people more wealthy. But there was an astounding diversity of the walkers on Sunday: men in kippah, women from "Muslims Against Hunger" in headscarfs, crazy hippies in a drum circle, the Boston Vedanta Society marching as a group, an a capella group singing "My Wild Irish Rose" on the steps of Temple Beth Zion in Brookline. And all of this started with a group of lefty Catholics at the Paulist Center over thirty years ago. It reminds me that for all of the ways in which America is still flawed, made evident in the fact that we needed something called a "Walk for Hunger" in the first place, the ability to bring together such a strange, exciting mix of people together in one place, and to have them live together without shooting each other, seemed a bit more of a good idea on Sunday. Isaac Hecker thought that the natural optimism and high-spiritedness of the United States gave the Catholic church in America gifts from the Spirit that it had a duty to dispense throughout the world; the breeze of the Spirit flying by felt a little stronger to me on Sunday.

Final note: if you want to donate to the Walk for Hunger in my name, or in the Paulist Center's name, or just for the heck of it, you can still do so for the coming weeks at Project Bread's website!

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