Monday, January 21, 2013

Legacy

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. 

The house echoes with blessed, if unusual, quiet this morning. No pulsing music blares from passing cars at such an early hour; the wild-haired footie-pajama-clad toddler sleeps in his crib for a morning nap; our teenager (obviously) has yet to emerge from his bedroom this morning, and Jayci has spent the night giggling and talking in bed with her friend Ava (the first of many slumber parties for those two I'm sure). I nearly dont know what to do with all the quiet, first spending a few minutes in the Word, wrapping my hands around a warm cup of coffee, and then pulling out my current book to snuggle with Maverick (our poor neglected puppy with the mohawk hair-cut courtesy of Adam) on the couch under a blanket with the space heater blowing on polka-dotted socked feet.

I'm reading Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn, which is a history of Atlanta following two prominent Atlanta families, one black and one white. My years in school have taught me that history may never be my best subject. Dates and pertinent geographical/timeline/names etc sort of skim past me when I read, so keeping everything straight becomes difficult. I feel differently with this book, however, and I'm finding myself deeply moved as I read. When I recognize the people for whom our streets are named, when I read the variegated history of the neighborhood we call home, dates and locations crystallize more tangibly for me. Isn't that how it usually works though? Things dont matter to us until they have a face? And so tears carve a path down my cheeks as I recognize the paths that were carved by blood running through the very streets we walk on and garden beside. Descriptions of the race riots of the early 1900s include names like Whitehall and Lee, and I am laid low by the legacy of fear and prejudice that led white to turn on black and the lie that we are not the same, to triumph over the truth that no matter who-turns-on-who, the blood that spills runs red.

As the minutes tick by this morning, I begin hearing more signs of life, of a community and neighborhood full of people and work and school and cars. Though today is Martin Luther King Day, so I'm expecting the kiddos to knock on our door any minute, promptly forgetting that it's family day, their own schedule broken by the day off of school. And so today, particularly, I would like to believe that things have been made new (and of course, in many ways they have). To believe that the legacy of one who spoke up for truth has triumphed and his dreams realized. And yet this morning as I pop outside to call Maverick back inside, my eyes are drawn to the faded brown spot next to our carrot-tops and kale, and I am reminded that blood still runs through our streets.

And as long as blood is being spilled, as long as oppression and fear still has any hold over any of our neighbors, I will be a voice for truth. I will break the silence of the night, even if it scares me and even if people would rather not hear that racism and prejudice still exists in our great country. Because there is a boy sleeping in the back bedroom, and kiddos tromping up to the door this very minute, who MATTER. Who have faces and names and red-blood in their veins and a same-ness in their souls, regardless of the color of their skin.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.  

(words in bold are from the Rev. Martin Luther King's Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence)

"Bravery isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the mastery of fear for the sake of something greater."-SheLoves

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I read this yesterday but the comment was messing up. Anywho, great read, beautiful writing. I'm adding that book to my must read list!

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