As a daughter of Tennessee, I hear the echoes of bullets that blasted before I was born. The same sounds that drew my parents from Mississippi to work in Memphis’ inner city, as Martin Luther King, Jr., fell on a second floor landing. We hear the shots even now.
For guns still yield brutal killings. And so often even now the color of one’s skin increases the chances of falling on the balcony of freedom.
And so from the seemingly lilted view of nearly fifty years we long for the top floor, for the highland’s celestial ceiling. Even if we can only seem to get as high as one set of stairs a decade, there is the lasting hope that we are still in one way or another ascending to greater understanding, greater compassion, and greater elevation.
But no matter how high we climb, we recall that beloved community also rests on the ground. At best, our upward ascent is a steady retracing of our steps down and up again as we make out the determined footprints of Jesus. And we recall the shots that freeze even the best of intentions. We recall that the future of sanitation workers are always in peril somewhere as we attempt to clear the refuse impeding the path that would guide us all upward.
And so we pray today for our some day ending, for the will to keep on working, descending and ascending. We pray owning our roles to play in the unequal state of the terrain. We take one step at a time past suburbs of privilege and down the streets of cities trembling. Our companions on the journey don’t always look like us, talk like us, fret like us. We pray for collective movement as we plod along together covered in the mud of the mountain.
May we march until the sound of shots is overcome by the sound of singing. May we march with the drum major who has been to the top: two steps forward, one step back as long as it takes for the motion of peace and justice to advance everyone.