Kate DeSmet

17 years at the News

The strike has had a deep effect on my understanding of things spiritual and religious. The act of receiving communion is now illuminated beyond all my past understanding simply because of walking a picket line. I see the word "communion" in a whole new way. For me it represents the joining of two words, "common" and "union." Who takes communion? Common people take communion. They do so by walking to a common table and receiving what looks like common bread. And they receive communion together, in union with each other. They are making a public witness to everybody watching that they believe this bread is holy, that it can feed them spiritually. Not an easy thing to do in a cynical world. And they move out of their seats toward the table whether it's a good day or a very bad one. So the union in communion has taken on a great appeal to me. All of those "common" men and women who went on strike, who endure the suffering and sacrifice it calls for, are making a public witness of belief in the idea that if I bleed, they bleed, and if I rejoice, they rejoice, and an injury to one is an injury to all. To me, that's the union gospel — we are not alone in our sufferings or sacrifices or celebrations. God is with us, most often in the kindness, compassion, friendship and love of another human being. Communion has another element of great meaning to me. In my religious tradition, communion dates to a supper held by Jesus on the night before He dies. His last meal was the traditional Jewish Passover seder. Both Passover and the Last Supper are rich in the idea that God stands with the powerless and can rescue them from tyranny. One hymn (for me, it is a true common-union song) puts it best: "Oh Mary don't you weep, don't you mourn, Pharaoh's army got drowned, Oh Mary don't you weep."

© 1998 Detroit Journalism Photography. To secure reproduction rights to any image e-mail or call 207-607-0468.