The Loneliness of the Long Distance Protester (Part of the "Christ Weary" Series):
It is time, it is time, it is indeed time for the protesters to start the long, lonely process of packing up to head back to their homes in far-flung townships around the bright spring-lit nation of America. Now that Terri Schiavo has died, as she should have nearly a decade ago, there is nothing left for the motley group of insane Christian families, sex offenders, and people-with-nothing-better-to-do except take hands as if they are a real and actual community, pray one final time to a Jesus who apparently didn't give a shit about all the other prayers, and move on.

It is time to pull off the last bit of red tape that reads "Life" from one's mouth, the symbol of resistance that one took off every day to have breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and water whenever one was hungry or thirsty. Yes, pull off the tape and take off the headphones, playing, what? Pillar? Or Seventh Day Slumber? Something that offers comfort, succor, inspiration, but with a beat that came from sinners.

It is time to decide what to do with all those signs - to tear them up or keep them as souvenirs, all those "Let Terri Live" and "Terri's Life Is Precious To Thousands of People" and "Wake Up America, You Are Next!" and "Terri is not a vegetable" and, really, "Hitler Starved Jesus, Greer Starved Terri" and "The World Needs Terri To Live" signs, as well as the "Wanted" posters with pictures of Florida legislators and Judge Greer on them, as well as the ones that plead with the Bushes to do something and the ones that plead with God, Jesus, and/or Mary to intervene, which, as noted above, did not happen. Yes, so much paper, so much trash, so much detritus of the event.

It is time to pack up the crucifixes, the huge ones, the ones with a gory Gibson-approved Christ, bleeding, beaten, hanging there, the one that threatens all of us with a good Jesus ass-kicking if we sin. It's time to pack up the shrines and the Catholic statues, all of it must be taken home.

It is time to put away the pro-life t-shirts and the photos of aborted fetuses and the anti-abortion signs that conflate Schiavo with a fetus, as if Schiavo was the perfect symbol - the adult fetus, helpless, repositioned in utero, ready to be protected as one would protect an infant or a kitten. Oh, but, yes, dead, Schiavo's corpse will become one with the dumpster fetus as iconic images of the movement to take over the medical decisions of individuals and their families. Schiavo dead is, really, much more valuable over the long haul than Schiavo on a feeding tube until her body rots away.

It is time to pack up the wheelchairs, oh-so-many wheelchairs, where the misguided disability activists sought to embrace the Schiavo case as their own. Where groups of disabled people, shaking in their scooters, were able to communicate in ways that Schiavo would never be able to. So the radicals of the group Not Dead Yet, strangely named after a line from a Monty Python film, must pack up their tubes from their "We Love Our Tubes" protest. Time to hitch the chairs up for the slow lift into the vans and hit the road.

It is time to pack up the dolls that the kids brought, the children of crazed Christian parents, taught to weep for Schiavo, for that vegetable-face photo that's been pushed on all of us, that, to a seven year-old, must, for all the world, look like a cartoon character, a Precious Moments-style doll, a motherfuckin' Care Bear. Yes, Mommy and/or Daddy said pray and they prayed. Mommy and/or Daddy said hand out flyers and they handed out flyers, Mommy and/or Daddy said, "Get arrested" and they got arrested. But now the children must take that eternal ride home with their parents, hearing how their long days in the sun and their long nights camped outdoors were worth it, that Jesus loves them all a little more for having been there. They will be taught to hate others in inverse proportion to how much they're taught to love Christ.

Unless they intend to riot or create a shrine at the hospice, there's nothing more to be done. They have done all they can. But they will be back, though, of course, they will. There will be a next time, another symbol to rally around. They may be packing up, but it's only to get ready for the next trip and the one after that. And while they're busy praying for little Schiavo's everywhere, they won't even notice that the government that abuses their vote keeps whittling away, whittling away at every foundation of their lives until there will be nothing left but war and Jesus.