My mother was writing a book. In fact, after she passed, that was one of the things I held a lot of guilt about. You see, she wanted ME to write the book for her. She'd say, "Gertrude, you know how to write a paragraph, don't you?" And I'd say, "Oh mother, a book is about WAY more than paragraphs."
But I pulled out her notes today. I needed to. After watching the news about the tragedy in Charleston, I needed something.
I needed hope.
My mother always talked about the hope of a better day. The hope of a better day. I just love saying that, thinking about it, believing it.
But hope can be so easily lost. Especially when life just throws so much bad your way. And especially when you're poor, and my mom grew up poorer than poor in Alabama during the Great Depression. But I remember her sharing that what was worse than being poor was the rejection from the world. Rejection is painful. It scars you. It makes you not want to trust. To not hope. It robs you of the belief that a better day is coming.
And that is why she and her mother (my grandmother) prayed their whole lives. They prayed for the hope of a better day and for healing. Hope and healing for themselves. And hope and healing for our country. For our country to come together.
My grandmother was a woman who continuously focused on the positive. We always wondered how she came about her positive attitude, for her life was one of extreme hardship and difficulty. Her mother died giving birth to her. As a child, she was sold by her aunt for three chickens. Her husband was an alcoholic. And she looked white.
But I want to share an excerpt from my mother, Gerdiest Reid's, writings with you:
"But things will get better," as my mother often said. "Just keep on living and do what's right. God will always make a way for you. You just do what's right. He knows about you. He understands about you. He knows every prayer you pray. He knows every time you get on your knees to pray." My mother used to talk to us, my brother and I and it was just so wonderful. I can just hear her voice now. She's dead and gone but I can hear her voice right now praying like she prayed -- asking the Lord for his mercy and to let His will be done. Not her will but His will to be done. You know it's a wonderful thing that in spite of all the pain you can forgive.
My mother just kept on praying. She kept on praying. She said that GOD would fix it after a while. She used to say that all the time, "GOD will fix it after a while." And she would also say after she got off of her knees, she would say, "Lord, where do I go from here?" Those were her words and I can hear her saying it right now,"Where do I go from here?"
So I ask you -- where do we go from here?
Where we go is the mirror.
The events of the past several weeks, including Charleston and here in the Dallas area, represent an unparalleled opportunity for us. A gift, even. A gift of reflection. A gift of looking in the mirror. An opportunity to honestly ask ourselves if we truly love one another as God tells us? Or do we only love those who are like us? Those who make us feel "right" or comfortable or who agree with us?
Black or white, Christian or Muslim, Northern or Southern, we are called to love others. No matter our differences.
In our busy lives, we so easily forget that we are surrounded by people who are on a journey -- just like we are on a journey. Everybody suffers. Everybody has pain. It is so very easy to look out -- to blame others. Let's challenge ourselves to look in the mirror. Recognize that we all need to pray for our own healing. For our own biases.
And yes, I know. There are those people who don't want the world to move on. They want to be stuck in a paradigm that allows them to feel superior. But already we're seeing that what was meant for evil is being turned for good. For change. For love.
So let's go from here.
Let's pray for healing. Pray for our country. Pray for each other. As my pastor said this week, "Let's get our prayers in the air." And let's look in the mirror.
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
- Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror