Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Community

When I left you last week I had written about praying for people who are shopping for Back to School supplies.  I stopped at the store Monday afternoon and found everything extremely peaceful—almost as though I had pre-prayed them into peacefulness.  But I have to say that my tradition has now changed the way I shop every single day. Now, instead of dreading a store that might be crowded and stressed out I see it as an opportunity to pray.  I know that makes me sound totally like a Jesus freak but it reminds me how just a little change can turn into a big change.  And I wonder if it’s a permanent change.

Now—for what I really want to talk about today.

Erin Counihan accepted a call from a church, got ordained to ministry and moved to her new community.  The remarkable thing this is that her new community is St Louis. And I get the impression that she’s in the inner-city.  She said the first night in her house she could hear gunshots.  Her first week on the job Michael Brown was shot in a suburb of her new community.  She had to think about how she was going to minister and it didn’t take her long to realize she needed to attend the prayer vigils with her fellow clergy, she needed to march for justice and peace and calm. Erin knows that if you are going to be a member of a community you have to literally walk the talk.  So she marched.

As much as I agree with Erin and her zest for justice my own marching days may be over.  I put some.thought to the whole idea of risk a few years ago.  I realized that I had never really risked much for a cause I believe in.  So I ended up in my first peace march.  There really wasn't much risk involved.  In fact, the only risk was that we had messed up the traffic pattern of a whole bunch of soccer moms in SUVs trying to pick up their kids from school. But I'm still glad I got to as least symbolically risk myself for peace..

I might not get much of a chance to do it again.  I thought of citing age but then remember seeing two different people marching with canes. The truth is, I don’t live in Dallas anymore and it would be a huge commitment  for me to drive to the city, park the car, march somewhere and then get back to my car.  The march I made years ago had a La Madeleine at the end and I arranged to meet a friend to come eat with me and drive me back to my car. I might not have the same perk the next time around. I may never again find a peace march with a French bakery at the end. There are just a lot of logistics involved. 

But there are also a lot of other ways to be part of a community of like-minded people, to claim your values, to stand for your beliefs.  And, in lieu of French pastries, one of them even provides music.

I’ve decided I believe in young people.  I believe in high school marching band. I’m not even partial to one school over another.  I believe in them all. 


For one thing high school marching band teaches you perseverance.  Sarah has been marching around on their practice field in the bright sun, in 100 degree heat for the last three weeks.  She has learned to pour the water into herself, to eschew carbonated drinks because they dehydrate you.  At their preview for parents I watched her stand for almost a half an hour facing the sun without sunglasses.  She told me she had her eyes closed.  She has learned so much more than the music.  I pray that she has also learned to not forget her sunglasses.

Being part of a youth-loving community is a lot of fun and so much easier when you don’t care who wins whatever the competition is at the moment, football or band contests. After all, school also teaches you to be your best and the incentive for that is always a competition.  I understand something about hanging in there and trying your best no matter what happens.  My senior year of high school goes down in history as the first time in the school’s 40 year history that the football team lost every single game.  Yet we yelled so loud that everyone had lost their voice the following day.

We’ll have a lot of opportunities to support youth this fall:  our neighbor teaches in one school district, our church youth go to two different other school districts, our granddaughter goes to one school in Garland and she has friends in two other schools there.

We will be in Garland on Labor Day watching all the bands march by.  The best spot to watch the parade is in front of Garland High School. Sarah’s school has rotated around from first position last year to the last position in the parade this year.  But I still want to see the parade from the first because there are two other schools I want to see.  No, wait—three other schools.  Oh, well, I just want to see them all.

The tradition among the bands is to march past Garland High School playing their school’s fight song.  The only time the parade ever stops is when the Garland band reaches the school.  The whole parade stops, the band turns to face the school and plays their alma mater. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

Being proud of your own community doesn’t mean you have to hate all the other communities.  I will enjoy hearing Garland High School’s alma mater just as much as hearing Rowlett’s fight song.  Being one race doesn’t mean you have to hate the other race.  It doesn’t even mean that the peaceful people should hate the un-peaceful people.  It just means you need to keep trying to promote peace. We can never give up on that one or we will be lost.  We need to keep trying to work together to help the entire community be a little better, a little more loving than we were yesterday.  You can still cheer even when your school loses every single football game.

I hope to have videos of the Labor Day parade and I’ll post them to my facebook page. Here's the video from last year:




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