Reflections on MLK
There are times in our life where we regret when we did not have kindness, empathy of compassion. But thanks be to life's hardships, loss and challenges, we change and grow. This is a story about one of those times and how MLK changed my life.
Years ago, Justin and I were part of a young and married group that was comprised mostly of middle class white members. There also happened to be one beautiful African American couple that would bravely share their story about racial issues and injustices that they faced. At the time, I did not have the maturity, grace or compassion to validate their truth. I had a world view and this narrative did not nicely fit in it. So, I conveniently let this fall on deaf ears and became complacent and apathetic to their concerns.
Fast forward a few years, and I find myself going through major life transformation brought on by relationship loss and health issues. I had just come out of a deep depression and was undergoing major hip surgery that kept me bed ridden for nearly 8 weeks. (There is not much you can do other than read and pray, pray and read when you are on this situation.)
And this is when the heart alchemy began...
I remember vividly that cold January MLK day where I really read and absorbed the words from the Letter from Birmingham Jail for the first time. Something inside of me was pierced so strongly that it cracked my hardened heart. Everything I knew about the world, race, and justice shifted. I realized that by not listening to my friends and ignoring their plights for help, I was contributing to their and others suffering. I knew that racial issues still existed in our community and country. I committed that day to reading and listening to learn from minority voices. It's a journey that I'm still on and continue to ask where can we help and how do we change the system?
There have been many times over the past few years where I have thought of my friends and wanted to reach out or write them a letter. So as the universe so often gives a chance to self-correct, I ran into my friends over dinner a few months ago. We caught up on life and years gone by. Then over tear-filled eyes, I apologized to my friend and said I'm sorry that I did not hear you during that time. Please forgive me. In that instance, I felt like I was given a great gift to have that conversation and something in my heart healed that day.
So today as I'm continuing to think about what the new civil rights movement looks like and the work still needed in the world today, I am thankful to MLKs letters, sermons and speeches. He opened a nation's eyes, and several years later, my blind ones.
Happy MLK day, everyone. God bless.