I cried last evening.

It has been a while, but I remembered how.

A simple post on a friend's Facebook page started it: "They are FREE!! The 43!!!"

The Morong 43 is the name given to a group of 43 health care workers arrested in the Philippines last February and held since. The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and others affirmed their innocence of the charges. Presbyterians supported our partners in their efforts to achieve the release of the Morong 43 through prayer, advocacy with government leaders in the Philippines, advocacy with the U.S. Congress, personal contacts, and financial support. The government of the Philippines dropped the charges and finally, on Friday, the Morong 43 were freed – well 38 of them were freed (40 actually since two of the women had babies while imprisoned).

They are FREE!! The 43!!!

I read those words and started looking for more information and preparing to share the information with colleagues and friends.

And as I did, I began to cry – really cry – making noises that probably had my neighbors wondering what was happening – heaving my shoulders – wetting my cheeks – and letting splash on the table, tears.

Tears for all that the 43 suffered – deprivation, indignity, abuse – things I will never know and cannot imagine.

Tears for the heartache and anxiety endured by their family and friends.

Tears of joy for the freedom that 38 of our sisters and brothers have been granted (40 actually since two of our sisters had babies while imprisoned).

Tears of concern for what lies ahead as our brothers and sisters adjust anew to freedom and worry about possible retribution.

Tears of gratitude for the people of the Philippines, the U.S. (including Presbyterians), and around the world who have worked and prayed for the release of our sisters and brothers.

Tears of grief . . .

. . . for the five who continue to be held

. . . for those who are unjustly imprisoned anywhere

. . . for those who are imprisoned and abused

. . . for those who have pursued justice in the Philippines and in places around the world and been killed

. . . for those who have been violated . . . and who are this day violated by violence, war, rape, torture, addiction, poverty, discrimination

. . . for those whose names I have not heard . . . whose faces I have not seen . . . whose pain I do not know

. . . for the human family . . . and what we can do to one another.

Tears of grief, to be sure.

But also, oddly, tears of hope . . . for I refuse to believe that evil will triumph . . . that hate will stand . . . that injustice will prevail . . . I believe . . . that love and compassion, peace and justice are stronger and will have the final word . . . deep in my heart, I do believe. Rooted in that belief . . . I cried . . . trusting in that promise . . . looking toward that day . . . recommitting to the struggle . . . and giving thanks for all who do the same.


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