Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

The Story of Justice

cc licensed flickr photo by OSU Special Collections

In Christian tradition, there is a story of Jesus walking down the street in a foreign town, a mother seeking healing for her daughter, and a strange and unique interplay between Rabbouni and a woman stepping outside of her traditional roles, demanding healing for her very ill daughter (Christian scripture, Mark 7:24-30).

In extra-biblical literature, the girl who needs healing is named Justa. Justa means “fair” or “upright.” Yep. Justice.

A friend and I were speaking about this story recently and we were remarking on one noticing in particular – Justa’s immediate needs were met, but what about her deepest desires? There is much to ponder here. When we see someone hungry, do we give them food? Possibly-some of us do. But do we take the time to discover their deepest desires? When do we slow down enough to notice with wide open eyes the deepest desires of the other? And then, instead of fixing or fulfilling those deepest desires, can we just become a container? A facilitator? How do we let Justa and her mother tell the story, have their immediate needs met, and discover their deepest desires?

So many questions!! The truth is, we can be slow enough, mindful enough, noticing enough to discover the deepest desires of the other. The truth is, so often we don’t. The truth is, when we can become a container of compassion and love, we will discover our own deepest desires.

Below is a poem I wrote for Justa in September, 2011. About 10 days before 9/11.


the daughter of
the discarded
canaanite woman
was named justice.

when justice lay on her
bed half crazed from
demons or schizophrenia
or whatever unnamed
disorder that bedeviled
her she was all that was
wrong with the world.

a separation of the haves
and have-nots.  those who
have access to healthcare
healers and those who
must die alone and destitute.

justice reached
and crossed boundaries.

her spirit floated through
the wooded path alongside
her mother as they desperately
sought the one who could heal
and put her fractured
psyche back together.

justice became a jumble
of screams as
nails on a chalkboard
incessant bees buzzing
sulphur burning
and constant drip-drip-dripping
clamored intently intensely
inside her skull.

time was running out.

her mother ran
searching and seeking
tree limbs slapping her
in the face as she sprinted
through the wilderness
seeking out anyone who
would promise healing
encountering charlatans
and just the misunderstood
and even those that would
send her away.  calling her
a dog.

not worthy of healing.
she wasn’t one of them.

finally, she sees the one
some call love walking down
the street.

mother screams out as
pain is ripped from her
heart like a bandage from
a fresh wound seeking
hope once again for
justice and knowing that
the hopeless seems so
much stronger.

love keeps on walking.

once more
mother bares her
psyche screaming hope
with barely a glimmer
on the horizon like candle
snuffers putting out all
the stars that exist.

except this

mother is heard and justice
is walking with her heart
receiving confirmation
of the great hope mother
always knew was there.

deep within.

a great symphony sprouted
in the heart of justice
with melody sung by
a white-throated sparrow
and harmony enchanted
by love.

Shalom and Amen,


© 2013, post and photos, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at,, and  To reach her for conversation, send a note to


I am a monk disguised as a passionate prophet. My true loves are God, family, and the creative arts. And maybe just a little bit of politics too. (PS My photo is by Eric Lyons Photography).

5 thoughts on “The Story of Justice

  1. Thanks, Jamie! So many times I don’t even know what is going to come out of my keyboard until I start writing. I have just been thinking of that poor little girl in this story lately! I didn’t do a good job on deepest desire as spiritual practice tie, but maybe tjis will be a mini-series! Oooo….that is an exciting thought.


  2. Terri, if I remember well that exchange between Jesus & the woman of Syrophinician taught me that she not only understood her station in life, humbly yet, she also understood she, too, was a daughter of God, and was filled with more love for her daughter than for societal differences and, she had sufficient faith in Christ that He could not deny her request ~ as well as ours.
    27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
    28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
    29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
    30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

    Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful poetry ! Felicitations!


Kindly phrased comments welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.