Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Light Among Darkness

This letter is from a former minister of mine... their annual Christmas letter. I always like their's because they are rarely the typical... "look at all the cool stuff my (grand)children did this year." (Granted yes those are nice sometimes, but can get a little cliche)

At any rate - I thought this letter was worth sharing. I think it says a lot about our country - and especially about how a lot of Christians feel at this point. I hate stereotypes - granted yes I'm sure I have my role in perpetuating them, but I hate them. I try not to live into them, and I try not to assume them. Yes, I'm human, I have difficulty with that sometimes... but alas... here is the letter.

" - The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5 -

I was a wet-behind-the-ears kid that day, circa 1942, when I saw this huge black man, in bib overalls, talking with dad at the service station. They were friendly and laughing together, and I took it in. I didn't know it then, but later, looking back, the darkness had gotten a bit lighter.

It was 1947 when I first saw him on the high school track. He was a black flash with a beautiful stride. His name was Everett. We ran track together. We weren't close, but friendly. One day I gave him a lift home in my car. And when I saw where he lived I couldn't see through the tears, the darkness was getting still lighter.

They say college is where you grow up. I guess that's right. Against my dad's good counsel, I, along with others, picketed the trustees of our Christian university for not allowing blacks to enroll. I don't think it was a few idealistic students, but by 1953 a black face was seen on campus. And the darkness? Well, it wasn't as dark as it had been.

I didn't march with the black man in Selma, but I spoke on the streets of Brooklyn in support of his dream. Scared the hell out of me. Yet the darkness just wasn't as dark as before.

Back in 'ol downtown K.C. there were floods of black and white storie memories - a little black boy looking for a dad, almost any dad would do... a church full of curfew violators following a dark as dark can be assassination...a march to the police station to confront as good a police chief as K.C. ever saw...black panthers walking in the night...a church, and churches together, applying tourniquets and bandages...As the classic novel put it: it was the best of times and the worst of times. It was darkness and light in pitched battle. And it took a good bit of faith to see through those dark nights.

All through my married years she's been with me, supporting and pushing me, and moving beyond me in places I'd never go. For cryin'-out-loud they stuck this vulnerable-white-woman-teacher in a ghetto-black-school, where neither teachers nor students nore parents wanted her. She was a pariah in no-white-persons-land. Yet in the end - this vulnerable one, who could cry a river, forded the stream and became a favorite of students and parents and many of her black colleagues. And if that isn't a comet in the dark sky I don't know light.

And today? Well it may not have been your today, red and blue as it is. Fair enough. But for Susan [name changed for privacy] and me it was November 5th, 2008, the day after election day, sitting on the couch early a.m. hearing that a black man had become the 44th president-elect of the United States. We clinked our coffee cups, and virtually said together, "Well, I'll be damn!" Because if that wasn't a sun-blast-in-the-darkness we don't know what is.

It's not over, not by an infinity. We are no pollyannas. But two old skeptics, on the cusp of a new day, are affirming once more that "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

P.S. To you "reds" out there - many of whom we are beloved family members - we mean no fault. But neither do we apologize. God bless us all. We're all Americans. And may we always be together."

I normally would add some sort of commentary or thought that I hope would be inspiring, or might add to what I've just posted. But in this case - there is no need. This letter is perfect.

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