I was looking at a picture of furrow-browed men while the speaker in a full room talked about language. The picture was in black and white and the brave men were walking both full of fear and full of courage. Nearly in the center of the frame was Martin Luther King Jr. who, with sweat dripping like tears of an exhausted, hopeful, renegade soul stared back at me.

I’d heard the speaker say that rioting was the language of the unheard. I hear it was Martin Luther himself who said it, and it has rung through my lungs since then. Like a language, he said.

But when is it we hear them? When is it we hear each other? When is it I hear myself contesting that which lays unjust even within myself must find itself something just to hold on to?

And it rattles through my lungs like the wild gift of speaking in tongues because mostly I know what it is but I’m unsure how to say it to those who have very little understanding of the language. Do you know what I’m saying? Can you hear? It’s quiet, stuck there in my lungs, but hurts like something not alright. Sure, I’ll get by- we’ll all certainly get by, but it isn’t right. I’d been told listening isn’t something done by those who have ears. It has to be those who have ears to hear…

Because I’m hearing people riot; mothers exhausted in their homes, fathers left lonely without a hand to hold, children confused and aching, young women coming up empty, young men coming up full… and empty. Like a language, he said.

But can you hear it? Can you see it? Can you feel it? Could you know it, see it, meet it? Connect some dots and simply be with it? We’ve got to learn the language so we can just simply be with it.

Staring back at you, staring here at me; sweat dripping like tears of  exhausted, hopeful, renegade souls full of fear, full of courage. The language, he said, of the unheard.