Monday, July 11, 2016

The Prayer Vigil

(Written Sunday evening...)

Desegregation occurred when I was in 9th grade. It was a very confusing time.

To be perfectly honest, the only black people I knew back then were Clara Belle and Phoebe. Clara Belle was a tall, big-boned woman who talked so loud to herself that she scared me. During my medical school psychiatry rotation, I realized she was probably schizophrenic. She ended up at Whitfield when she threw bricks at the welfare people. I don't know what happened to her after that, but I've wondered about her a lot over the years.

My grandmother loved Clara Belle. When she was hungry or needed money, she came to see Grandmother, who always gave her a little work, a little money, and a big meal. If my grandmother had had a lot of money, she'd have given it to her. I think she probably gave her all she had.

Phoebe worked for my grandmother for many years. It looked to me as if they were best friends. Even when Phoebe was too old and frail to do much work, she'd come to our house and cook a little. She and my grandmother would talk and pray. We all loved Phoebe. I thought all black people were as gentle and kind as she.

The world changed for everyone that 9th grade year. The black high school students came to the white high school. Younger grades were moved to the black high school. There was lots of anger and fighting and fear and I didn't understand it, but it frightened me.

There were marches and boycotts and I didn't understand any of it, either. They frightened me, too.

I didn't know there were places black people couldn't go back then, but I do now, and I'm still shocked by it. 

I had some hard experiences in high school because of desegregation, and they were painful at the time. Looking back, though, I prefer to remember Sharon Nicks. She was the prettiest black girl I'd ever seen. She had the most wonderful, gentle smile and I thought she was a lot like Phoebe. She was genuinely nice.

I didn't understand much of the unrest that happened when I was in high school. I just lived through it, like we do.

I understand a lot more now, and I wish I could've made it easier for those kids. Because they had it bad. I'm so very sorry for all their suffering.

Things are better than they were for African Americans, but they still aren't all they should be, and it's past time for change.

I don't know what I can do to make a difference, but I'm going to the prayer vigil because I care. Because God cares. Because black lives matter to me, just like white lives and Asian lives and any other lives. 

Life matters.

By the time you read this, I'll probably already be at the prayer vigil, joining with others in our community to pray for healing in our nation and our community. It's long overdue, and I'm praying healing begins tomorrow.

I've spent most of this afternoon preparing meals for Sam to eat while I'm gone, putting the final polish on my notes for teaching Wednesday evening, and pondering what God will do tomorrow.

I never know what to expect from Him, but I know that, if I'm faithful, He will be, too. And so I go...

If you've never participated in a prayer vigil, I invite you to come. I'm not in charge in any way, so I don't know what the leaders have planned. At most of the prayer vigils I've attended, the altar is open and people pray, alone or in groups. 

If you want to come, look for me, and I'lll pray with you. 

It may not be a familiar place, but there'll be family there, and I'm sure you'll be welcome. With your presence, even if it's just for a few minutes, you'll make it clear that every life matters to you, no matter how much pigment their skin has.

The words I plan to say, as often as possible, are "Your life matters to me." I invite you to do the same.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31 nasb

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to Your Life Matters to Me

And the link to The All-Important IF and the Chance to Save a Nation
#yourlifematterstome #prayervigil #disciple