We set out on Good Friday, not exactly sure what the day would bring. I wonder if Jesus awoke that ancient morning and thought to himself, "Is today the day?" Did Reverend King emerge from his Lorraine Motel room that crisp April morning expecting to walk into the cross hairs of his assassin? We set out Good Friday morning, making our way first by train, and then by foot, on a walk through downtown Los Angeles. Passing from the Financial District, to the Fashion District, past polished sidewalks swept clean of the riff-raff. On, down 6th Street. Somewhere around noon we crossed an invisible, yet palpable line that separates the living from the dead. The stench of the dying hit like a wall, mixed with urine, vomit, booze, body odor, shit, dirt, and humiliation; mixed like a toxic barrier. No soul in their right mind should pass this way, for once crossing over, there are very few options for turning back.
Perhaps, there is a strange safety, a false sense of security, for those who live on skid row. One child asks, "why aren't there any hobos up in the Financial District?" A good question on this Good Friday. Yes, why are "the hobos" all down here? These, however, are not hobos, for at least a hobo has access to the open highway, free to roam the country at will. These are the dead, like Lazarus, locked in a tomb of no hope? They are the crucified of skid row. They have been dealt the death blow. They loiter, like the unseemly, unkempt prophets who hung around the first-century temple entrance, reminding the pious religious of their sins. They are an offense, an eye sore. These crucified are corralled outside the city walls. These lepers, the ones Jesus called to himself, who he touched; these are a social nuisance, a bother, a plague. So, they are handled, disappeared, exterminated.
Jesus, by way of association, would cross a line from which he could never turn back. Jesus left the temple, crossed the road, and met the leper at their place of shame. Jesus, left behind the weeping sisters and entered the tomb where Lazarus lay cold. Jesus, having supped with his closest friends, left the safety of that upper room and entered into the Garden of no return. Like this, we too left behind the city of the living and crossed over into the tomb of the dead. We, without fully understanding, crossed the point of no turning back, into this place of shame for those who have been crucified by way of modern crosses; civil codes, mandates, police enforcement, injunctions, forceful removal, citations, threats, and all other means of systemic murder. Like Jesus' own crucifixion, these nameless of skid row, and their offense, have been dealt with and made to disappear.
By choosing to embark on our Good Friday walk, could we have known the extent of our decision? Were we choosing sides? Perhaps, by crossing at 6th and Gladys and venturing into the heart of skid row, we were saying yes to death by crucifixion. Perhaps, we too were choosing to walk into the cross hairs of Gethsemane, choosing to enter the tomb of Lazarus, to sit with him in all his filth, decay, and shame... Perhaps, it is necessary for one to challenge the unexpected, to enter the tomb, and face the point of no return in order to experience any future resurrection.