Listening to the Stones from the Wall Street Wall

Last evening we published Susan Lince’s wonderful poem “Every Stone Shall Cry” and her accompanying art work. Thanks to Susan for permission to publish them.

Not everyone is familiar with this line about the stones. The poetry of the stones crying out has its roots in Hebrew Scripture in a poem from the Book of Habakkuk, later echoed by Luke as Jesus’ response to those who want to silence his disciples and protesters to Roman occupation – “I tell you,” says Jesus riding on an ass into the city occupied by the Romans, “if these [people] were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40).

The original Ode of Woe against the Chaldeans’ foreign interventions and military-economic occupation becomes, on Jesus’ lips, the ode against the Roman system of occupation and internal collaboration by indigenous leaders, and, on Susan’s lips, it echoes from the walls of intractable powers that nature itself will not long abide in silence. Nature will not be silent! Think of the stones in the wall of Wall Street. Even the stones cry out against the abuse. Here’s the text from the Book of Habakkuk where the reference to the crying stones first appears:

Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—
for how long? —
and loads himself with pledges!”
Will not your debtors suddenly arise,
and those awake who will make you tremble?
Then you will be spoil for them.
Because you have plundered many nations,
all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you,
for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
to cities and all who dwell in them.
Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house [society/empire],
to set his nest on high,
to be safe from the reach of harm!
You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
For the stone will cry out from the wall,and the beam from the woodwork respond.
Woe to him who builds a town with blood…

– Habakkuk 2: 6b-12a

The ode against the Chaldean Empire ends with a lovely line looking for the day when the most intimate knowledge of the Breath of Life will cover the earth “as the waters cover the sea” and the stones will no long cry.

Susan is a writer, painter, poet, composer, environmental and social justice activist. She and her spouse, John Lince-Hopkins, developed the movement Requiem2020. They will lead the First Tuesday Dialogues event on Climate Departure at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, MN Tuesday evening, March 4, at 7:00 P.M.