The national holiday came and went and my heart is still full of the idealistic rhetoric of the great MLK.
I find myself humming the gospel chorus’, especially Lift Every Voice and Sing, repeating the slogans, “…Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, “…hate cannot drive out hate…”, and contemplating the curious concept of the “beloved community”…all in between the daily chores of living my quiet, safe and undramatic life.
I think about how one man who knew what was important to himself and felt so strongly about it that he was able to stir the hearts of others and incite courage in them to go after what was important to them.
This holiday commemorating a period of American History, a story of yesterday, some 35 years ago, impacts my today.
Today I am living the Gran Finale years of retirement. I have celebrated this holiday for many years. What does it have to do with me at this age? And,why do I care?!
Several years ago, our then 15 year old grandson was staying with us during a difficult time in his life. I drove him to a special school across town every morning on my way to work. It was winter and the days were short. Most days, if we were on time, we drove into the eastern sunrise and watched the sky slowly change, he in silence with his eyes closed, napping, me with eyes wide open oohing and aahing over the delightful sky art.
On one of these mornings when the sky was particularly gorgeous, I nudged him and rather enthusiastically invited him to notice the sky.
In quick response but as placidly as possible, in his Southern droll, he replied, “Gra’ma, what is it with you and the sky? It has nuthin’ to do with me.” And he snuggled deeper into the seat and shut his eyes again.
It took me a second before I laughed. Eventually he did too. I’ve been laughing at this moment ever since. In fact, it’s become a family reference whenever something obvious is pointed out, someone says, “It has nuthin to do with me!” In their best Southern accent.
At the time, it seemed to be a classic teenage response to an over expressive granny. How tedious it must have been for him to be trapped for 30 minutes every morning with his extroverted, morning-person granny!
There was something profound about it too, a life lesson of sorts. It seemed to be a commentary on how far removed we humans can get from the very essence of our existence, from the things that make life happen and give life meaning.
“It has nuthin’ to do with me” is an attitude that comes easily when life gets so routine and habitual that the deeper, bigger meaning of living fades and joy fades with it.
The 1960’s are past. I’m not brown skinned. You might think MLK has nuthin’ to do with me.
Yet his legacy occupies my quiet moments, brings tears to my eyes and provokes the longing in me to matter and make sure you matter too.
When I hear him declare in his strong preachers’ voice from the steps of the Washington Monument, “I have a dream…”, my heart calls back, “me too! I have a dream too.” His legacy urges me to call out my place within what really makes life meaningful and good.
For me, its that “Beloved Community” thing. I dream for my grandchildren, that they will know what it feels like to be loved and valued by the people they spend time with, that they will know how to give back that love and respect, and that the world will be free of bigotry and hatred. I dream for them to be part of the beloved community.
MLK reminds me. I am never too old to dream.
MLK reminds me. I am never too old to look up at the rising sun and declare a new day, for myself and for my grandchildren.
MLK reminds me. Let my grandkids know why the sunrise is important and what that sunrise has to do with them.
MLK reminds me. Dreams matter.
What dreams are you passing on to your loved ones? Does your age keep you from dreaming?