“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (April 3, 1968)
It has been quite a while since I have listened to or read one of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's speeches. Much too long.
This morning I took a moment to read his very last speech, spoken 50 years ago yesterday, in Memphis, Tennessee as he gathered and led a boycott in that city for just wages for sanitation workers. As I read, I was struck anew by the power, the hope, the vision, the honesty and the immediate resonance of his words.
“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men (and women), in some strange way, are responding.”
I reflected on the teachers boycotting in West Virginia and in Oklahoma. I reflected on all the people protesting in Sacramento, Parkland, Washington DC. I reflected on the women and men praying everyday outside the Richmond Detention Center where immigrant families await the decision of judges to know the fate of their lives. The fire remains lit, yes, but how strong is it lit within me?
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's presence as a martyr of justice was all-encompassing and powerful for me as a child growing up in 1970's Los Angeles. Yet his empowered vision became dimmed in my life, like a star flickering so softly that it easily becomes lost. I find this to be true not just for me but for this nation I call home --- the fire, very alive when I was younger, has cooled over the years and is now rising again, born out of our children, born out of our future.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech is wisdom embodied and bold. All of his speeches were touched with grace. This one, however, articulates the lessons of a great prophet, a man who did everything because of and through his Christian faith. This intersection, where faith calls forth action, is very important to remember and to renew. This speech, a mere 50 years old, links the human journey to faith that inspires courage and calls forth action. It may have never been one of his greatest talks had he not been assassinated the next day. Yet, hindsight opens up an invitation to ponder how we may bring forward our beliefs into the world, a world in desperate need of healing, peace and justice.
And so today, if you have not yet taken time to sit with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words, I offer you his final speech in both word and sound:
Where is your fire of faith and justice? Where will this star lead you?
The Wake Up Call
Today is Founders Day – this means we are in the last three weeks of the school year and the end is in sight.
This end is different for all of us. For some, it is simply a seasonal change when we can rest and rejuvenate for another school year. For others, the end signifies the completion of our time here at HNU, a transition from one experience into another, the beginning of an adventure that awaits somewhere "out there." In either case, the end offers us something – an invitation to stop and notice a changing moment. It is a wake-up call nudging us to go forth.
What is your response to this wake-up call?
For me, I tend to be one of those people who hits the snooze button two maybe three times on my alarm clock each morning. It often takes me a little time to realize and then hear the wake-up call and then actually respond by waking up! Practicing mindfulness, even in the simple ways that I do, has helped me become more and more aware of the subtle opportunities to open my eyes. Opening my heart to whatever may come to me each morning, each day, each year, is the first step in transitioning from one adventure to another. Waking up means realizing it is time to wake up. Waking up means facing the day. This, of course, is hard to do, especially if you enjoy 9 minutes of snoozing!
And so today I invite each of us to pause, to wake-up, and to notice the invitation within this ending, no matter how big or how small. Be attentive to the space within your heart that is needed in order to welcome this transition.
If it is helpful, play this gentle, beautiful 5-minute song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F428bZeKucM&feature=youtu.be), to ground you and wake you. This song has become my mantra this week, reminding me to open my heart to whatever comes. Reminding me that adventures await endings if we are awake enough to notice.
The World of Words
"I take it as an elemental truth of life that words matter...The words we use shape how we understand ourselves, how we interpret the world, how we treat others. From Genesis to the aboriginal songlines of Australia, human beings have forever perceived that naming brings the essence of things into being. The ancient rabbis understood books, texts, the very letters of certain words as living, breathing entities. Words make worlds." -Krista Tippet from Becoming Wise An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
Spring Break may be a time for many of us to slow down, to pause, in simple and possibly leisurely ways. One way to enter stillness this week could be to enter into the world of words.
During this week I invite you to carve out a moment to savor the shimmering of words in your life. What words inspire, delight, ground or challenge you? Maybe they are words such as nourishing, curious, tender, redemptive, courageous, gracious, winsome, or bamboozled. Write them down. Let them be.
Is there a poem which often roots you and brings you back to yourself? Find it. Read it.
And Savor your new perspective.