Good morning, everyone!
I arose before dawn (thanks to the time change) filled with gratitude. This feeling is nothing new to me; I am so thankful for every day that the Lord sees fit to honor me with.
I am thankful to wake up “clothed in my right mind” (This is a prayer that my late mom used to pray every day. And while I didn’t understand the prayer when I was a child, I am fully aware of what it means to be “clothed” in my “right mind.”)
Mom paraphrased that prayer from scripture in the Bible, where Jesus healed a naked mad man, who was later found “clothed and in his right mind.” I like Mom’s version; it is a wonderful thing to be “clothed” in one’s “right mind.”
Anyway, maybe this morning felt different because we are in the season of Thanksgiving. And maybe not. Whatever the reason, I am always so happy when I wake up to the sounds of birds chirping in the trees outside my window, and for the sounds of traffic speeding by on the busy State Road 826 that’s just a stone’s throw from my Miami Gardens home.
I know, as well as you, that we could very well be waking up to the sounds of bombs falling around us, with nowhere to hide. So I am thankful for a peaceful awakening each morning. But I am also reminded that this peace we enjoy in this country is nothing to be smug about. Surely it is the goodness of God that has rained down these blessings of peace on our country for all these years.
But don’t be fooled, my friends. It isn’t because we have been the perfect people. America has often been very naughty — just downright unfair — to many of its citizens. Our country ‘tis of thee has not always treated its children, of all nationalities and colors, with a fair and just hand.
And while we have made great strides in America, we Blacks still struggle for equality; we still must be vigilant because with just a stroke of a pen from the wrong person, we can be removed from our homes and neighborhoods. And that same pen can wipe out our history forever in America. Believe me, friends, these evil, cunning deeds are being put in motion even as we sleep.
Yes, I slept well and woke up refreshed. But I am yet aware of the threats against my freedom. I know there is yet much work to be done.
So while I woke up filled with gratitude, I am not ignorant to what is happening around me. And I am still saddened whenever I hear of a hate crime. But I am encouraged and given new hope when I learn of gatherings like the recent peace march in our city. People of all races and nationalities came together in support of peace. That is a good thing.
Yet marching for peace is not enough. Each of us should make it a practice to promote peace in any way we can. Peace is being open to learn about the culture and traditions of others. It is about trying to understand people of different nationalities. It is about removing the wall of misunderstanding that separates people from finding a common ground.
We have got to stop trying to settle our differences with hateful, racial slurs and guns. We have got to be willing to come to the peace table with an open mind. As Americans, we have been given chance after chance to do the right thing by each other. And while we are living in a precious period of grace, the grace and mercy that our heavenly Father has bestowed on us will not last forever. So if we blow this opportunity to do good, it’s on us. We need to think about that. Life is short — even for me — and I have lived 85 and a half years.
Whenever I feel led to write a column like this, I feel that I am preaching to the choir, so to speak. Yet I feel compelled to encourage and point my fellow brothers and sisters to the road marked “Peace.” I believe it’s my “calling.”
So how do we find that road called Peace? Here’s what I think:
We first must make peace with ourselves. For many people, their body covers up their troubled soul. Each one of us should look deep inside our soul and decide if we want to ever live peacefully with each other.
Oh, I am aware that there are some people who simply love to hate. Some people just love drama. They seem to wake up thinking of how they can hurt someone today; how to make somebody’s life a living hell. I have known people like that throughout my life. Some have caused me to shed bitter tears. Yet, I still say, it is better to focus on the goodness of the Lord, and the precious gift of life we have been given, instead of focusing on the trauma and the drama being played out around us.
So, yes. I may be “preaching to the choir.” But a choir is supposed to sing. Let the choirs of the world (that means all of us) at least, try to sing a song of peace and gratitude.
Bea Hines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org