Friday we came together as believers who may not agree on doctrine or various points of theology but who, without hesitation, could join hands in opposition to hate. As we circled to pray for the city and the events of the next day, we recognized what we haven't done enough of in the past and tried to make ammends. During the press conference, blacks and whites spoke on camera and off of love, justice and peaceful protest.
Saturday, somewhere between 200 and 300 dropped in on one (and there were others) of the gathering places for prayer. They quietly held signs reminding people of God's love and they prayed.
I was present physically on Friday and spiritually on Saturday. I saw the date conflict about a week ago and made the decision to keep my commitment to work at the AIDS hospice rather than stand with my friends. I knew my prayers could be heard no matter where I was.
As I honored my commitment to serve some of what Jesus might call "the least of these," my decision was confirmed. When I arrived at the hospice, I was greeted by a first-time volunteer. He was gorgeous (and no, that wasn't why I felt so good about the decision!) and Haitian. I met the new nurse assigned to our Saturdays. She was a young black woman who had invited two women from her church to volunteer. They were there for the first time. They, too, were black.
So on Saturday while a small group of closed minded individuals walled themselves away in a community center to promote inequality and injustice, I served side by side as both student and teacher with the very people the KKK would condemn. I even had a little "worship" service with one of the first-time volunteers as we both agreed that powerful prayer could be had when on your knees cleaning the toilets for men and women with a horrible disease and little time left to bother with hate. (Though the challenge of loving even those with whom we disagree is within those walls as well, since people with nothing but the clothes on their back still harbor ignorance and intolerance for other residents, nurses and volunteers with whom they would never have "mingled" when on their own.) The day ended with several us talking about our faith communities and the horror we all felt in knowing that the KKK still existed.
I told my little community on Sunday that while they were praying that God's kingdom would come in the lives of those who now live by hate, I was living the Kingdom on earth.
[To read some of what happened among the community who were on hand on Saturday, check out this blog.]