I’m the sort of person who doesn’t mind going to a movie alone. That’s weird I know, but then again so am I. All of the voices inside my head get along pretty well most of the time so the occasional time alone is positive more often than not.
My new preaching gig graciously allows me to attend some sort of conference each year, but since nothing particularly appealing fit into my calendar and since I never really had a chance to reflect prior to jumping from one job into another, I opted for a personal spiritual retreat this year—retreating today and returning on Friday. I suspect that I will talk to a person or two along the way at a restaurant or convenience store, but the plan is to spend time alone in silence. Listening to the sound of stillness. Meandering on a couple of scenic runs. Praying and meditating. Reflecting and planning. Dreaming. Preparing my mind, heart, and soul for a new year (as our church family marks time) that is rapidly approaching.
Utah is my chosen destination, partly because I have never been, partly because it is far enough away and yet not so far either, and partly because of a landmark there that may or may not have something to tell me about the sermon series I intend to deliver in the fall. We’ll find out soon enough.
We are all different. For some, such a week ahead may sound like torture, but I am almost giddy with excitement. Who knows what might emerge when I get away from routines and responsibilities, meetings and appointments, emails and notifications long enough and far enough to take a deep breath and truly listen?
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged breathe, contemplation, dream, listen, meditation, prayer, reflection, retreat, running, silence, solitude, soul, spirituality, utah
“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963)
Three years ago, I wrote an essay for the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal titled, “From Integration to Multiculturalism: Dr. King’s Dream Fifty Years Later.” The essay questioned whether the changes in race relations in the United States in half a century signified actual progress toward Dr. King’s dream. The skepticism I expressed in the essay has not improved while watching the news over the ensuing three years.
And what exactly was the Dream? Although the terms equality and freedom and justice, words with a legal flavor, were prominently featured in Dr. King’s speeches, it is the family metaphor of brotherhood (with apologies for the non-gender inclusive language of the time) that stands out in the speeches as a better characterization of the Dream. As King famously stated, “I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.”
Check out the epigraph to this essay that closed out the Letter from a Birmingham Jail to see what I mean. Check it out again and tell me that we are in shouting distance of such a dream. I think not.
So has this all been a waste of time? Are we simply left with a new holiday? Of course not, but although there has been much good, it is naïve to think that we are anywhere near a world where we see one another as brothers and sisters across the various social lines that divide us. Watch the news. Heck, join me in taking a good look at our own hearts.
So what now? Well, I say that we keep dreaming. And keep hoping. And keep working. For equality and freedom and justice, sure, but climb up on the mountaintop and see beyond those lofty words to an even loftier ideal where we all live together as brothers and sisters.
That is some dream, and it is worth remembering today.
Posted in Original Essays, Uncategorized
Tagged brotherhood, brothers, dr. king, dream, equality, freedom, justice, mlk, mlk day, pepperdine, racism, sisters