It has taken me a few days to think about how to respond to John’s post about the stoning of Malak, an Iranian woman accused and convicted of adultery.
I chose not to follow John’s links to images of stoning, because I have already seen such images and as the horror of them is indelibly etched into my memory I don’t need another witness to the brutality of such a practice. [Note: For me, such images spiral me into crisis. Am I the only one who can’t eat, can’t embrace, can’t hold fast to joy when I faced with such horrors? Is it wrong or naive to protect my own strength by not daring to look?]
So this morning as I meditated I recalled my mental images and I put myself in the place of Malak. In my mind I tried to feel the fear of my impending death. As I did so, I felt such outrage at the brutality and barbarism of being stoned to death. I felt I could neither comprehend nor find empathy for a culture who would sanction such torture.
And then I shifted my attention to those who would throw stones. I felt the rough weight of rock in my hands. I marveled at the power I have to hurl rocks at another person with the intention of harm. I looked around me and saw others throwing stones. I felt the pressure of doing the same. In looking down at the stone I thought of this post, and reflected on the power of such small bits of compressed earth. With the power to wound and kill and the power to open the heavens. And I thought of the boldness of silence. Of taking the time to pick up a stick and write in the sand. And how such an act not only acquitted the accused, but also condemned those holding the stones.
So I signed the petition against the stoning of Malak. And I am holding her and her accusers close in my thoughts today. And I have recommitted myself to finding solutions to torture that expose its barbarity. And when I am in my garden later today I will tell the story of Malak to the stones that circle my peach tree and rosebushes. I will pick them up and feel their heft and roughness. I will take time to gaze at them and think of my connection to the earth that formed them and my connection to the pain and torture that is a world away and yet so close that I must act. The stories that rocks the tell me allow a focus on what is most essential, most plain, most true. To see that rocks are meant for building bridges, for creating conduits to the divine, for reminding us of our own fragility.